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Summer Meals Made Simple with Kebabs

July 21, 2015 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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The humble kebab is a favourite worldwide. From simple street food to classy restaurant meals, there are countless delicious kebab variations all built around the same idea – meat, chicken, fish, vegetables or fruit roasted or grilled on a skewer.

Kebabs are the perfect choice for a healthy, simple summer meal. They can feed your family or are great for a crowd.

Often people think about the meat as the primary ingredient of a kebab, but vegetables and fruit can be equally as tasty. Grilling (and roasting) brings out the natural sweetness in many vegetables which pair well with savoury meats. The combination of the two on a kebab adds colour, texture and a more balanced flavour profile.

Here are some tips for delicious, juicy kebabs:

  • Marinate meat or chicken from one hour up to overnight (marinate seafood for about 30 minutes) as a general rule
  • Pick veggies and fruit that will take the same time to cook as the meat (you can precook them if needed). Some good picks are coloured peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, peach and mango
  • Cut all foods to be skewered into large cubes (about 1 ½ inches) or chunks
  • Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using to avoid burning, or use metal skewers

Try these tasty combinations:

KebabMain ingredientsHow to put it together
Squash and pork kebabs Butternut squash, cubed
Pork loin, cubed
  1. Boil the butternut squash cubes until barely soft (about 10 minutes)
  2. Thread alternating pieces of squash and pork onto skewers
  3. Sprinkle with a bit of ground coriander
  4. Brush on a mix of:
    • 30 mL (2 tbsp) sherry vinegar
    • 60 mL (¼ cup) maple syrup
    • A dash of chipotle hot sauce
    • Salt to taste
  5. Grill
Zucchini and rosemary lamb kebabs Zucchini, chunks
Lamb leg, cubed
  1. Marinate the lamb in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh rosemary, crushed garlic cloves, pepper and a bit of salt
  2. Thread alternating pieces of zucchini and lamb onto skewers
  3. Grill
Pineapple and jerk chicken kebabs Pineapple chunks (canned in own juice or fresh)
Whole boneless skinless chicken thighs, in chunks
  1. Marinate thighs and pineapple chunks in:
    • 30 mL (2 tbsp) jerk seasoning
    • 15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
    • 10 mL (2 tsp) lime juice
  2. Thread alternating pieces of pineapple and chicken onto skewers
  3. Grill
Cherry tomato and Greek shrimp kebabs Cherry tomatoes, whole
Large shrimp, out of their shell
Lemon, sliced
  1. Marinate shrimp in a mixture of olive oil, chopped fresh marjoram (or dried), chopped fresh dill and fresh minced garlic
  2. Skewer shrimp along with grape or cherry tomatoes and lemon slices
  3. Grill, being careful not to overcook
  4. Top with a bit of feta cheese to serve
Rainbow veggie kebabs Zucchini, cubes
Eggplant, cubes
Coloured bell peppers, chunks
  1. Combine:
    • 3 crushed garlic cloves
    • 15 mL (1 tbsp) ground coriander
    • 15 mL (1 tbsp) olive oil
    • 5 mL (1 tsp) ground cumin
    • 5 mL (1 tsp) paprika
    • Salt to taste
  2. Brush this paste liberally on the vegetables
  3. Grill
*Recipes adapted from: Food Network

Another great thing about kebabs is that you never have a problem figuring out what to do with leftovers. Make yourself a hand-held meal - just take the food off the skewer after cooking, put it in a whole grain pita, and top it with a dip.

What are your favourite summer kebabs? Tell us about what goes on your grill.


Photo credit: Tim Marconi

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