Kalyn's Kitchen

Effie’s Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar

This Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar is a recipe that was sent to me by a reader, and this was one of those must-make-again recipes from the first bite. If you don’t have the middle eastern spice mix called Za’atar, use any blend of dried spices that you like on tomatoes.

PIN the Cottage Cheese Salad to try it later!

Effie's Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar finished salad in serving bowl

Every now and then I try a recipe and from the very first bite I know it’s something that I’m going to be making over and over again, and when Jake and I tried this Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar, we couldn’t stop exclaiming over how fantastic it was. But just as fun as the salad itself is the story of how I happened to be making this salad! Recently I got an e-mail from a reader named Effie who told me she enjoys the blog, and she offered to send me some spices from Israel. I love Middle Eastern flavors, so I was excited when a few weeks later I got a package with lots and lots of different spices, plus recipes!

Effie’s package had so many new things I’m having fun experimenting with, but since I was at least a little familiar with Za’atar, this cottage cheese salad with Za’atar Spice Mix (affiliate link) was one of the first things I tried. And I was pretty sure Za’atar would taste great on American cottage cheese, and it did! And even if this version is different from the one Effie says is a favorite of her kids, we simply could not stop eating it. Many, many thanks to Effie, and now I am working on a package to send back to her!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • cucumbers, preferably small Persian cucumbers or mini-cucumbers
  • fresh tomatoes (see notes)
  • green onion
  • sliced olives (see notes)
  • cottage cheese
  • olive oil (a generous drizzle)
  • Za’atar Spice Mix (affiliate link)

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is a middle eastern herb, but the name most often means a blend of spices that always includes thyme, powdered Sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. Authentic Za’atar often has Hyssop instead of thyme. Za’atar Spice Mix (affiliate link) is widely available, even in the U.S.

What is Cottage Cheese like in Israel?

When I searched for information about cottage cheese in Israel, I discovered it’s one of the most popular dairy products sold there. Israeli cottage cottage seems to be thicker and creamier than the American version, and it’s a staple in Israeli homes.

What Cottage Cheese did I use?

For both sour cream and cottage cheese, I am pretty loyal to Daisy brand, which I think is creamy and delicious, and Daisy Cottage Cheese is something that’s almost always in my fridge. (For the record, this company has never given me any cottage cheese and I’m sure they don’t even know that I’m alive.)

Effie's Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar

How to make this salad:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. The Za’atar Effie sent me was very green compared to what I had seen here, and the flavor was amazing.  Za’atar contains Sumac (affiliate link), which I’ve loved in so many recipes. 
  2. For four servings of salad, I cut up 4 small Persian cucumbers, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup sliced green onion, and 1/2 cup sliced olives.
  3. Mix the veggies in a salad bowl that’s big enough to toss the ingredients together.
  4. I used my favorite Daisy cottage cheese.
  5. We topped the vegetables with 1 cup cottage cheese, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and about a tablespoon of Za’atar.
  6. Stir together, and enjoy, with more Za’atar to sprinkle on at the table for people like me who can’t get enough of this flavorful spice mix!

More Tasty Recipes with Za’atar:

Whole Wheat Quick Bread with Olives and Feta ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fattoush ~ The Perfect Pantry
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Za’atar ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Avocado Toast with Feta and Za’atar ~ Mother Would Know

Effie's Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar finished salad in serving bowl

Effie's Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

This Easy Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar is an amazing salad you'll want to make over and over.


  • 4 small Persian cucumbers, cut in fourths lengthwise and then into slices (Persian cucumbers are sometimes called mini-cucumbers in U.S. stores)
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives (see notes)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 T olive oil (a generous drizzle)
  • 1 T Za’atar (more or less to taste)


  1. Cut the Persian cucumbers into fourths lengthwise and then cut into slices.  (If you have to use regular cucumbers, they may need to be fully or partially peeled.)
  2. Dice the tomatoes, slice the green onions, and slice the olives.
  3. Combine the vegetables in a salad bowl, large enough to toss the ingredients together.
  4. Put the cottage cheese on top of the tossed vegetables.
  5. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with Za’atar to taste, and toss again.
  6. Serve right away, with more Za’atar to be added at the table.


I used grape tomatoes cut in half. I used regular black olives, but Kalamata olives would be good.

This recipe is from a generous reader named Effie who lives in Israel.  Effie says this salad is a favorite of her kids.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low Glycemic Diet / South Beach DietSuggestions:
This Cottage Cheese Salad is loaded with healthy low-glycemic ingredients, and it would be approved for any phase of the original South Beach Diet as well as for low-carb eating plans. South Beach would recommend reduced-fat cottage cheese and other plans will prefer full-fat dairy, so take your choice!

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2012. It was last updated with more information in 2021.

Pinterest image of Effie's Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    54 Comments on “Effie’s Cottage Cheese Salad with Za’atar”

  1. OMG making this tomorrow ❤

  2. Hi- just to let you know that to balance this out and to make everything pop, it' pretty important to add some acid, as the olives dont quite do it. So I used about three quarters of a freshly squeezed lemon. Also, instead of black olives, may I suggest pitted calamata olives. (i personally think that black olives from a can are an affont to yummy olives everywhere…). You could also substitute the cottage cheese for feta for a yummy change!

  3. Mollie, fun to know. This was pretty spectacular with the American cottage cheese, but I'd love to try the real thing.

  4. Hi Kalyn,

    I think that that 'israel cottage cheese' is almost more like a soft, but more tangy version of our cream cheese, kinda like a greek yogurt sort of tang. It's highly popular and found at EVERY meal, either sweetened with fruit at breakfast (or even savory with za'tar and oil ) and then throughout the day! (I've been there to visit twice) I'm going to see what I can dig up at the israeli grocery here and let you know my results. This will be perfect for going back on phase one!

  5. Stace, I love this salad; hope you enjoy!

  6. I am late in commenting, since I just found this recipe on Pinterest. This looks and sounds so yummy, that I just ordered some Za'atar so that I could make this! I have been looking for some meatless meals and I'm so glad that I found this post. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. You can use any seasoning blend that's suitable for sprinkling on prepared food.

    The ingredients in Za'atar are Sumach, Thyme, and Sesame seeds if you have any of those.

  8. Does anyone know what to use in place of Za'atar?

  9. I just started SBD last week and discovered your website today. I love the recipes you post. I imagine you probably already sent the package of goodies to Effie here in Israel, but just as a comment to your readers: Cumin is a common spice in Middle Eastern cooking, we have an abundance of dried cranberries here (sweetened and sugarfree). What we don't have is fresh cranberries, SF maple syrup (we have pure maple syrup here in every supermarket). Mexican spices and Cajun spices are sometimes available here but not always so that would be nice. When I visit the States (I'm originally from Long Island, New York but have been living in Israel for many years)I bring back Cream of Tartar, SF maple syrup and the big bag of Splenda from Costco.
    Effie's salad is also made here with a soft lowfat cream cheese simply called "white cheese" here and it's equally delicious.

  10. Hi Meg,
    So glad you're finding the recipes to be helpful. I loved this salad too! Luckily most of the ingredients here are things you don't have to worry about portion size, but I do like the idea of making a single serving.

  11. I've had this recipe bookmarked since you posted it back in February. I had to wait until we went to Memphis to get some za'atar at Penzey's.

    Because I have portion control issues, I made a single serving of this salad for lunch today. Oh My Goodness! Had I made the recipe as written, it would have become a single serving. I'll be eating this for lunch every day this week. I think I might even like it for breakfast.

    I too am trying to follow the SB way of eating, and find your recipes invaluable to have on hand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  12. I'd probably just leave them out. I think the salad would still be great.

  13. 'Slap your MaMa' is a blend of Cajun spices that my son LOVES. The name is a laugh in itself.