It is time to take a skewer and pop the boring meal bubble by making kabobs — or kebabs, satays, whatever you call them. The point is that we’re dishing out ways for you to thread some of your favorite foods along a skewer before enjoying a delicious dish. But first, we need to tackle a matter of controversy surrounding wooden skewers. Many recipes will call for them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling with them, but is this really necessary?
Opinion is divided. Almost every recipe will tell you that if you’re using wooden skewers, you definitely need to soak them; enter the multitude of people who say that they have never done this. In places like Global Post, master of the grill John Willoughby is cited as saying there is no need to do this. If you’re worried about the wood suddenly igniting into flame, it certainly can’t hurt to soak them. Alternatively, you could invest in reusable metal skewers. With that in mind and skewers in hand, it is time for you to figure out which of these seven recipes you’ll be trying out.
1. Tuscan Pork Skewers
Fresh and flavorful, Cooking Light‘s easy marinade of olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic is the simple touch your pork needs before it is paired with peppers and grilled. Keep the Tuscan theme going by serving the skewers over a bed of pasta, or keep everything light with a salad.
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 16 (1-inch) pieces red bell pepper
- 16 (1-inch) pieces yellow bell pepper
- cooking spray
Directions: Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Combine olive oil, grated lemon rind, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic in a large bowl, stirring well. Add pork; marinate at room temperature 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Thread pork and bell peppers alternately onto each of eight (8-inch) skewers. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until pork is done, turning occasionally.
2. Grilled Drunken Shrimp and Scallop Skewers
Create an island getaway for yourself by firing up the grill to make shrimp and scallops that have a tequila kick to them. While you’re at it, you could toss some more tequila in the blender for a frozen margarita while you work up a sweat. Even if you aren’t using your extra tequila to make a drink, this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens will give you six servings of summertime seafood.
- 20 large fresh or frozen sea scallops (about 1¾ pounds total)
- 20 large fresh or frozen shrimp (about 12 ounces total)
- ¼ cup tequila
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 pound jicama, peeled and cut into bite-size strips (about 4 cups)
- 1 medium avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and thinly sliced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ground black pepper
- lime wedges
Directions: Thaw scallops and shrimp if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse scallops and shrimp with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Place scallops and shrimp in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together tequila, lime juice, olive oil, oregano, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic, and paprika. Set aside ½ cup of the tequila mixture to use in the jicama slaw. Pour the remaining tequila mixture over the scallops and shrimp. Seal bag; turn to coat scallops and shrimp. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes, turning bag occasionally.
For the jicama slaw, in a medium bowl combine jicama, avocado, and cilantro. Pour the reserved ½ cup tequila mixture over jicama mixture. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until serving time. Drain scallops and shrimp; discard marinade.
On six long skewers, alternately thread scallops and shrimp, leaving ¼ inch between pieces. For a charcoal or gas grill, place skewers on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium-high heat. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until scallops and shrimp are opaque, turning once halfway through grilling. Serve skewers with jicama slaw and lime wedges.
3. Moroccan Vegetable Skewers
You’ll never think of vegetables as boring again after punching them up with a blend of Moroccan-inspired spices. In this Food.com recipe, you get 8 to 10 servings of seasoned vegetables that you could serve with rice, couscous, or a meat of your choosing.
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
- 1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
- ½ large red bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks
- 3 fresh pineapple, 1-inch-thick rings, cut into quarters
- 12 asparagus, cut into 3-inch lengths
Directions: Soak 12-inch wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Combine parsley, oil, garlic, seasonings, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add vegetables and pineapple to the marinade. Let stand at least 10 minutes before skewering. Thread vegetables and pineapple onto soaked skewers.
Preheat grill to medium high; spray grates with nonstick spray. Lightly coat both sides of vegetables with nonstick spray. If using a gas grill, turn off one side; on a charcoal grill, push the coals to one side. Lay the skewers on the grate with the vegetables over the hot side, handles over the cooler side. Grill, covered, until vegetables are cooked and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Turn, baste with any remaining marinade, and grill 2-3 minutes more.
4. Beef Teriyaki Kabobs
Even when it is pouring down rain and you can’t grill, you can still get serve perfect kabobs with this recipe from Cookstr. It will serve between 4 and 6 people, and rice or vegetables would be an excellent accompaniment.
- 2 tablespoons finely minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- ⅔ cup low-sodium soy sauce or ½ cup regular soy sauce and 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, plus oil for the baking sheet (optional)
- 3 tablespoons mirin (optional)
- ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into ½-inch slices
- nonstick cooking spray (optional)
- toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Directions: Place the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, oil, mirin (if using), brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl or in a small container with a lid and stir well or shake to combine. Pour the teriyaki marinade into a 1-quart heavy-duty zipper-top plastic bag or a larger plastic container with a lid. Add the chicken or steak and mix to coat well. Seal the bag or container and let the chicken or steak marinate in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours (the longer it marinates, the more pronounced the teriyaki flavor will be). You’ll want to flip the baggie or toss the meat in the container a couple of times during the marinating process so that it marinates evenly.
If using wooden skewers, at least 30 minutes before cooking, soak them in water in order to prevent them from burning. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the broiler.
Remove the steak from the marinade, setting aside the marinade. Skewer 1 or 2 pieces of steak on each skewer lengthwise, threading them so they are on securely. Place the skewers on the prepared baking sheet and broil until the teriyaki sauce develops a nice glaze and the meat is cooked to your liking, 4-6 minutes on each side for medium steak — although this may vary by oven.
Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and let the marinade simmer until it becomes slightly reduced and glaze-like, about 4 minutes. Put in a container for serving. Serve the skewers on a platter sprinkled with the sesame seeds, if desired. Drizzle remaining marinade over meat, or sides, if desired.
5. Honey-Glazed Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Peach Skewers
Sweet potatoes and peaches probably don’t meet too often at your dinner table, but Fine Cooking is out to change that. The sweet skewers get a crunchy element added at the end, when everything is sprinkled with chopped pecans. It makes four servings.
- 1 medium sweet potato (about ¾ pound), peeled and cut into sixteen 1½-inch pieces
- 1 cup sherry vinegar
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons canola oil; more for the grill
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 16 pieces
- 4 small ripe but firm peaches, quartered and pitted (about 1½ pounds)
- ½ small sweet onion, cut into 1½-inch chunks, layers separated (about 4 ounces)
- ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Directions: Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire. Soak eight 12-inch wooden skewers in water. In a 4-quart saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1 inch of water to a boil over high heat. Steam the sweet potatoes until nearly cooked but still a bit firm, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat; cool slightly.
Put the vinegar, ½ cup of the honey, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper in a 3-quart saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to ⅔ cup, 13-15 minutes. The glaze should brush on easily but be thick enough to coat the chicken. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of hot water. Meanwhile, thread the onion, chicken, sweet potato, and peach onto the soaked skewers.
Reserve half the glaze. Brush the skewers with the remaining half of the glaze. Thoroughly oil the grill grate. Arrange the skewers on one side of the grill grate and grill, covered, until well marked on one side, 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss the pecans in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon oil, the cumin, pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Put a large piece of foil on the other side of the grill and scatter the nuts on the foil. Flip the skewers. Grill until the chicken is cooked through and the nuts are bubbling, 3-5 minutes more. (Keep a close eye on the nuts; stir if they threaten to burn.) Transfer the skewers to a serving platter, brush with the reserved glaze, and sprinkle with the pecans.
6. Grilled Balsamic-Molasses Bacon
Smoky, sweet, and fragrant, Southern Living‘s method of preparing bacon on the grill will quickly become one of your favorite grilled side dishes. It is also a fantastic appetizer for a summer picnic or party, servibng between 6 and 8 people.
- 14 (8-inch) wooden skewers
- 6 tablespoons molasses
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
- 14 thick applewood-smoked bacon slices
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
- freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Preheat grill to 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit — low heat. Stir together molasses and next two ingredients. Thread 1 bacon slice onto each skewer. Grill bacon, covered with grill lid, 15-18 minutes or until bacon begins to brown, turning every 6 minutes. Baste with half of molasses mixture, using rosemary sprigs as a brush; grill, covered with grill lid, 5 minutes. Turn bacon and baste with remaining molasses mixture, using rosemary sprigs. Grill, covered with grill lid, 5 minutes or until browned and crisp. Remove from grill. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve bacon immediately.
7. Honey-Yogurt Dip with Fruit
It isn’t always about grilling kabobs filled with tantalizing foods. Sometimes the skewer is all for show, like in this fresh fruit dish from Rachel Ray. You could also use plain yogurt, since you’ll be flavoring it with honey and cinnamon.
- 2 cups vanilla yogurt
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 quart strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 cups fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 cup melon chunks
- 1 kiwi, sliced
- 8 mint leaves
Directions: In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey, and cinnamon. Thread the fruit and mint leaves onto skewers and serve with the yogurt dip.