Kabobs are one of those popular grilling items almost everyone will indulge in during the summer months. They are easy to prepare and extraordinarily versatile – far more so than most other meal options. Kabobs allow for a wide range of flavor compositions without the tremendous increase in preparation time you often see with more conventionally prepared meals, so as a cook you are capable of providing a lot of variation without a lot of overhead...
This is fantastic from a hosting perspective, because it means you can cater to wider range of tastes when you have friends and family over for dinner. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to one or two sources of protein (such as burgers and hot dogs) and a couple side dishes; if you want to serve four or more distinct combinations of foods, you have that option.
In addition to their versatility, kabobs are a great choice from a nutritional perspective. Each skewer has the potential to hold an entire balanced, yet compact, meal: You literally have your meat (protein) and your vegetables (fiber, vitamins and minerals) at your fingertips when eating kabobs, whereas if you are grilling steaks, burgers or frankfurters, the odds are pretty good the veggies being served on the side are not going to get the attention they deserve.
A little about (shish) kabobs
Kabob (or kebabs), in their simplest form, have been around for as long as humans themselves, but when people think of kabobs they have a very particular image in mind: that is, bite-sized pieces of seasoned or marinated meat skewered along with chunks of vegetables or fruit, which are then slowly roasted over a fire.
It’s difficult to say where kabobs as such originated. Some historians claim they are entirely Turkish in origin, with others insisting that they are a product of 13th century India. However, the truth is far more complicated. To quote waaahkebabs.com:
“The origin of kebab may lie in the short supply of cooking fuel in the Near East, which made the cooking of large foods difficult while urban economies made it easy to obtain small cuts of meat at a butcher's shop. According to Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveler, in India, kebab was served in the royal houses during the Delhi Sultanate period(1206-1526 AD), and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan. (However) the dish has been native to the Near East and ancient Greece since antiquity.”
Some delicious kabob recipes
Jerked Chicken and Plantain Kabobs with Salsa
8 chicken thighs, cut into 2 in.chunks
2 plantains, sliced into 1 in.pieces
1 red onion, cut into 2 in.chunks with 1 chunk minced
2 Tbsp jerk spice blend
1 tsp cumin seed
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 cup papaya, diced
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp salt
Prepare charcoal or gas grill, or preheat broiler.
On 8 long skewers, thread chicken, plantains and chunks of red onion. Rub with jerk seasoning and cumin. Place on grill or under broiler and cook, turning once, about 6 minutes per side or until chicken is firm and cooked throughout and plantains and onions are tender.
To make salsa, stir together all salsa ingredients, plus minced red onion. Set aside.
Serve skewers with salsa and rice.
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1-1/2 lbs boneless lean pork loin, cut into 1 in. cubes
4 celery stalks, cut into 1 in. pieces
6 skewers, 12 in.
3 cooking apples, cored, quartered and cut in half crosswise
Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Place pork in a shallow dish and pour marinade over. Cover and marinate in refrigerator several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
Place celery in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover pan and steam 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Refrigerate.
Drain pork, reserving marinade. Thread pork cubes and celery on skewers, allowing space between cubes. Grill about 10 minutes over medium coals turning frequently. Push cubes together and thread apple on skewers. Grill another 5 minutes, brushing with marinade.
Tangy Grilled Beef Kabobs
1 cup mayonnaise type salad dressing
1 packet Italian dressing mix
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1-1/2 lbs boneless sirloin steaks, cut into 1.5 in. pieces
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup zucchini, cut into 1.5 in. pieces
2/3 cup green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1.5 in. pieces
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Transfer 1/2 cup mixture to a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate. Thread skewers with meat and vegetables. Arrange prepared skewers in a shallow dish. Pour remaining dressing mixture over to coat. Place in refrigerator and marinate 30 minutes. Prepare grill. Arrange skewers on grill and cook 7 minutes, turning once until meat reaches desired doneness. Serve with reserved dressing for dipping.
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 tsp paprika, sweet
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
1/8 tsp cayenne
1-1/2 lbs tuna steak, cut into 1 in. pieces
1-1/3 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into .75 in. pieces
1/2 lb eggplant, cut into .75 in. pieces
8 skewers, 8 in. each
2 Tbsp cilantro, or parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine first 4 ingredients in a non-reactive baking dish. Stir in tuna and marinate 15 minutes. Heat oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté bell pepper 3 minutes. Add eggplant and sauté another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are tender. Transfer vegetables to tuna mixture. Thread skewers alternately with tuna, eggplant, and bell pepper. Transfer to a foil lined baking dish and bake 4 minutes. Brush with marinade and bake another 4 minutes, or until tuna is browned on the outside and slightly pink on the inside. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.