This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at Ravenouskitchen.com or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family.
There’s a song that captures this time of year for me. Sly and the Family Stone’s Hot Fun In The Summertime. For some, the hot fun happens at the beach or the lake, but for me it happens in my back yard in front of the grill.
Now, before you start thinking I’m crazy, let me explain. I cook all the time. Every day I feed lots of people. When spring arrives and the weather warms up, I heat up the grill and cook outside. It’s less messy and doesn’t heat up the house, but the biggest reason to cook al fresco is that I love the taste of food cooked outside over a fire. It’s a primal, seasonal, back to basics thing.
But let me take it a step further. I really get fired up at the prospect of cooking an entire meal on the grill. On sticks. I’m talking kebabs.
Kebabs are brilliant when you’re having company since they can be assembled ahead of time and cooked at the last minute with little muss or fuss. But they’re also terrific for weeknight cooking when time is of the essence and you need dinner fast. There’s no end to the possible combinations and it’s a great way to eat your veggies. I’ve gathered four quick recipes below, all perfect for family or company. But first, some grilling tips.
Tips for Perfect Kebabs
- When using wooden skewers, they must be soaked in water 30 minutes before using them. This prevents them from burning up on the grill. First thing to do is soak while you prepare the ingredients.
- The grill grates must be oiled before adding the kebabs. I like to use a vegetable spray but you can use a brush to oil them as well.
- It’s also a good idea to give the kebabs a spray or brush with oil before adding them to the fire. It’s just good insurance as it’s a problem when the kebabs stick and then fall apart on the grill.
- Make sure the grill is preheated. You want it to be set on medium-high heat for most kebabs. Remember you are cooking fast. Most kebabs cook in under 10 minutes.
- Don’t skewer the food tightly. Allow a little space between the pieces of food so that they can cook evenly.
- Think about the combination of meat and vegetables on the stick and partner quick cooking veggies with quick cooking meats. Remember to cut tough vegetables in smaller pieces so that they cook at the same rate as the meat. If you are concerned, you can always make meat and vegetable skewers separately in order to control the cooking.
- Wooden skewers come in all shapes and sizes so it’s a good idea to have an assortment on hand. I like to use the flat skewers because they hold the food more securely and when turning the kebabs the food is less likely to spin. But the thinner round skewers are also handy for skewering more delicate items like the cheese in the Halloumi kebab recipe below.
The first recipe is Grilled Halloumi and Tomato Kebabs with Chili, Lime and Mint. Halloumi is a semi-firm Greek cheese that can hold up to grilling as it softens but doesn’t melt. Grape tomatoes and cheese are threaded onto short skewers and once grilled are drizzled with chili oil, lime zest and mint. I like to serve this kebab as a side dish or even as an appetizer.
Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Glaze comes together in no time. The glaze is made of balsamic, oil, garlic, thyme and Two Brothers Smokey Spicy Seasoning. It’s sweet and spicy, smoky and tart and when brushed on the shrimp, veggies and sausage these kebabs taste like sunshine in the south of Spain.
Pork and Pineapple Kebabs have a brief sit in a yogurt marinade with garlic and the Indian spice blend garam masala. Threaded with fresh pineapple and red bell pepper, pork tenderloin is perfumed with the flavors of India and sweet fruit.
Lastly is a kebab of Chicken with Zucchini and Hummus Sauce. Chicken thighs are so much easier to cook than breasts since they are more difficult to overcook. The juicy chicken and vegetables are bathed in a garlicky lemon vinaigrette, grilled and then served over a bed of hummus. I like to serve this one with little pita bread to make a sandwich, Middle Eastern style.
So, stick it to dinner and have some hot fun (at the grill) in the summertime. Sly and your family will be sure to approve.