It’s Progressive Eats time again and this month we’re doing a kebab feast. I’m contributing grilled vegetable shish kebabs. The term “shish kebab” or “shish kabob” comes from the Turkish meaning skewer of roast meat. But in English, the term has come to include skewered vegetables, poultry and fish as well.
Kebabs are among my favorite summer foods. There isn’t anything I can think of grilling that doesn’t taste even better skewered and grilled. There’s no need for fancy equipment – I use inexpensive wooden skewers and a charcoal grill. If you don’t have a grill – even a hibachi, you can probably find a nearby park with a common grill that will work just fine.
For omnivores like me, kebabs often focus on meat, poultry, or fish, with vegetables tagging along as an afterthought. But not this time. At this kebab feast, I’ve put vegetables on center stage, marinated in a light but fragrant sauce that provides a vaguely Middle Eastern aroma as you bite into them.
Like my Provencal Vegetable Soup au Pistou, this recipe is basically a template and you can vary it easily without any expertise or tricks if you don’t like an ingredient (e.g. the cilantro in the marinade) or have a vegetable you’re dying to grill that isn’t in the recipe (e.g. eggplant or sweet potatoes.)
Tips on grilling vegetable shish kebabs:
- Put the vegetables on separate skewers from any meat, poultry or fish you might also be shish kebabbing. (OK – if you’re in the grammar police you are grimacing right about now, but I can’t help it. When I make shish kebabs, I often find myself humming tunes that include silly variants on the kebab them, like the red, red robin came kabob, bob, bobbing along.) Meat and poultry, usually take longer to grill than vegetables on skewers and fish (including shellfish such as shrimp and scallops) usually takes less time. Having them on separate skewers allows you to time each type of food properly.
- Cut the vegetables into similar size pieces so there won’t be larger pieces overshadowing smaller ones.
- For “hard vegetables” such as cubes of potato or butternut squash, parboil them first. If you’re paranoid about making sure they get grilled thoroughly, you can string them on a separate skewer from other vegetables, perhaps alternating them with thin slices of onion.
- Space vegetables out on the skewer and leave space at the bottom of the skewer for easily handling.
- Presentation matters. Sure, the vegetable pieces will get mixed up on the plate as each diner removes them from the skewers, but a colorful and varied skewer is a thing of beauty that will earn you big points from your family and guests.
Grilled Vegetable Shish Kebabs
Servings – 4 (using 12-inch skewers, approximately 8-10) Cost – $6-8
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (approximately zest of 1 lemon)
- ½ teaspoon cumin + more to sprinkle on just before grilling
- ½ teaspoon cardamom + more to sprinkle on just before grilling
- ½ cup minced cilantro
- ½ cup minced flat leaf (Italian) parsley)
- ½ cup minced sweet onion (Vidalia or similar)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, either mashed or finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
Vegetables for skewers
- 2 bell peppers cut into pieces about 1-inch square (I used ½ each of red, green, yellow and orange peppers)
- 1 sweet onion cut into crescent shapes
- 1 yellow squash, cut in half and each half into half-circles about ½-inch thick
- 1 zucchini, if fat cut same way as yellow squash or if smaller, cut into circles about ½-inch thick
- 8-10 cherry or grape tomatoes
- 8-10 small white or Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
- Approximately ½ pound of fingerling potatoes or small gold or red potatoes cut into 1-2 inch pieces and parboiled (Put potatoes in a saucepan of cold water, bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes just until a fork can pierce them.)
- Saucepan (if using potatoes)
- Cutting board
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups (for liquids and solids)
- 2 bowls – 1 small and 1 large
- Skewers (I use 12-inch wooden skewers)
- Large pyrex or similar glass casserole dish for marinating
- Plastic wrap
- Spoon or brush
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in the small bowl.
- Cut the vegetables, putting them in the large bowl as you go along, and when you’ve got all the vegetables cut as you want them, string the pieces on the skewers in whatever colorful and random order you choose. I like to use thin crescents of onion.
- Put the skewers in the casserole and pour the marinade over them. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate the vegetables for at least 1 hour (overnight is fine.)
- Preheat the grill. Just before adding the vegetable shish kebabs, sprinkle them lightly with the extra cumin and cardamom, so that the aroma of those spices is fresh as you begin to cook.
- Place the skewers on the grill and add any marinade that remained in the casserole dish. Immediately close the grill top (make sure the vents are open or the fire will die out) and cook the vegetables for about 15 minutes, turning once about halfway through.
- Galouti Kebab from Spice Roots
- Salad Kebabs from Miss in the Kitchen
- Hoisin Glazed Chicken Kebabs from Healthy Delicious
- Grilled Vegetable Shish Kebabs from Mother Would Know
- How to Cook Perfect Steak Kabobs from Barbara Bakes
- Salmon Kebabs from Stetted
- Naan – A Traditional Indian Flatbread from Creative Culinary
- Basmati Rice with Apples, Dried Cranberries & Almonds from The Heritage Cook
- Paneer Biryani with Cucumber Raita and Mint Chutney from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Bloody Beer w/ Antipasto Kebab garnish from girlichef
- Strawberry-Rose Kulfi with Pistachios from Pastry Chef Online
- Fruit Kebabs with White Chocolate Mascarpone Dip from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Progressive Eats is our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. As I’ve already mentioned, this month’s theme is a Kebab Fest. We are hosted by Anshie Dhar who blogs at the Spice Roots. We hope you’ll join us and make something unique and delicious inspired by our kebab theme.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.