Summertime Kebab Tips & Recipes

A kebab or skewer is food cooked on a stick. While traditional kebabs may have originated in Turkey, their origin is murky (we like rhymes, don’t you?). Today most kebabs refer to a skewer of seasoned meat and vegetables. But don’t stop there – try grilling up seafood, tofu, fruit, basically anything you can manage to fit on a stick. Cook kebabs on a skewer over a fire, on a grill, or baked in a pan in the oven. Savory kebabs are often served with rice, potatoes or pasta.

Visit our 2nd Floor Mercantiles to find culinary skewers – from bamboo to metal. Or use rosemary stalks to impart flavor to your kebabs. Kebab food combinations are seemingly endless. Search your fridge and chances are, you’ll find something to kebab. Before you begin, here are a few quick tips:

  • Never use dry wooden skewers. Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Remember: only you can prevent kebab fires.
  • Time and space your ingredients. Either choose items that will cook together at the same time or you precook some items. Time the kebab on the cooking time of the meat if you are making meat kebabs: a 1-inch cube of meat will cook on a hot grill in about 5 to 8 minutes. If any item you plan on putting on the kebabs takes longer you should precook it before adding it to the kebab. Tightly packed kebabs will cook slower than loosely packed kebabs so maintain a small amount of space between items, particularly the larger cuts of meat.
  • Don’t forget to marinate. Add seasoning, oil and herbs to kebab ingredients before cooking. This will help tenderize, moisturize and impart flavor.
  • Get the best grill marks. When grilling, place each of your kebabs diagonally across the grates and then rotate them 180 degrees for optimal grill marks before flipping them. Placing your kebabs perfectly perpendicular to the grates is fine, but diagonal delivers more attractive grill lines.

Showcase seasonal produce, natural meats and wild seafood with the following recipes:

Lemon & Dill Salmon Kebabs

Recipe and photo from strongertogether.coop. This party-friendly recipe marries rich grilled salmon with the light, refreshing flavors of lemon and dill—a summery treat for all your guests. The best part? It only takes half an hour.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces thick (center cut) wild salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks

For Marinade:

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon (about 2 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Fresh dill and lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Toss with salmon pieces and let sit for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Toss bell pepper chunks with a little olive oil, and assemble the kebabs on the soaked skewers, alternating between salmon and bell pepper pieces. Gently place the kebabs on the hot grill and grill for about 4 minutes on each side. Garnish with fresh dill and lemon wedges.

 

Grilled Fruit Kebabs

Grilled fruit is a flavorful accompaniment to jerk-spiced chicken or tofu. Or serve a special summertime dessert, with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh ripe peaches and/or plums, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 small pineapple (2-3 lbs.), peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup ginger ale
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 6 metal or bamboo skewers (soak bamboo skewers in water before using)

Directions:

Prepare and preheat the grill. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger ale, honey, orange juice, oil, brown sugar, allspice, thyme leaves, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.

Thread the fruit onto the skewers and place them on a rimmed sheet pan. Brush the fruit with some of the marinade. When the grill is hot, put the skewers on and grill on each side for 3-4 minutes, glazing the fruit with more marinade every couple of minutes.

 

Shrimp & Plum Kebabs

Toss shrimp, juicy plums and zesty jalapeños with a simple cilantro-lime marinade for a deluxe meal in minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (substitute avocado or canola)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 raw shrimp, (8-12 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 plums, pitted and cut into sixths

Directions:

Whisk oil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl to use as dressing. Add shrimp, jalapeños and plums to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Make 4 kebabs, alternating shrimp, jalapeños and plums evenly among four 10-inch skewers (discard the marinade). Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes total. Drizzle with the reserved dressing.

Spicy Pineapple Chicken Kebabs

Photo: thegunnysack.com

A pineapple, coconut milk marinade serves double duty as a tenderizer and, once cooked down, a rich, spicy sauce to drizzle over the grilled kebabs. Serve with a platter of jasmine or basmati rice studded with shredded coconut and just a dash of curry powder. Pair them with a chilled hard cider or fruity Sauvignon Blanc white wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 large red bell peppers

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix the coconut milk, pineapple juice, lime juice, honey, Sriracha sauce and soy sauce. Reserve.

Cut the pepper and pineapple into 1 1/2-inch chunks and add to the marinade. Slice each chicken breast into thirds lengthwise and widthwise into 9 similar-sized pieces. Place in the marinade and toss to coat, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat the grill and thread the chicken, peppers and pineapple onto 6 skewers, alternating the ingredients. Put the leftover marinade in a small pot and bring it to a vigorous boil, and cook until a meat or kitchen thermometer reads 165°F and sauce has reduced and thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.

When the grill is hot, use tongs to dip a wad of paper towel into a tablespoon of vegetable oil and swab the hot grill with it. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side, moving the skewers to a cooler part of the grill if the pineapple and chicken show signs of burning. Serve the skewers drizzled with the sauce.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.