Our pastry chef Mary, who’s from Minneapolis, inspired this recipe, and I make it a few times every winter for family meal at the restaurant. It’s pretty killer and is made from ingredients we have on hand, like chicken, tahini and shawarma spice.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Make the shawarma spice: Combine the paprika, cumin and turmeric in a small bowl.
Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and season with 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon of the shawarma spice, tossing to coat. Cook right away, or refrigerate overnight, if desired.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil, then add the chicken and sear until caramelized and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet or plate to cool.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons canola oil to the pan, then add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of the shawarma spice and cook 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the onions to a large bowl.
Very thinly slice the chicken, then add to the onions along with the chickpeas and sliced pickles. Add the tahini and stir to evenly coat, then stir in 2 cups water.
Transfer the chicken mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with parsley. Split the pitas horizontally to make 8 circles. Stack the pita rounds and slice into 8 wedges each. Put the pita wedges in a mixing bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and lightly toss to coat. Top the chicken mixture with an even layer of pita wedges. Bake until the pita is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Top with the salad.
Arab Chopped Salad:
Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, parsley and mint in a large bowl. Top with the lemon zest.
Make the vinaigrette: In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, vinegar and 1/4 cup za’atar. Slice the preserved lemon into quarters; cut out and discard everything but the yellow peel. Finely chop the preserved lemon peel, then add to the bowl with the vinegar mixture. Whisk together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season the salad with salt, then add some of the vinaigrette and toss. Top with the feta and remaining 1/4 cup za’atar.