As far as I am concerned, summer can be renamed "The Season of Cooking Dinner on the Grill." It has a nice ring to it, no?
When the weather is warm enough, I am always looking for ways to make our dinner on the grill. Not only does it give me an excuse to sip a glass of rosé on the patio while I make dinner, but it minimizes dishes and it doesn't heat up the kitchen! Kebabs in particular are a simple way to use up all those garden-fresh veggies. Just pair with a protein, throw on the grill and dinner is done.
Kebabs are great for effortless summer dinners because, like a stir-fry, all the work can be prepped ahead. So they're a good call when you're having guests over, or for busy weeknights too. They pair great with a variety of summer classic sides, like three-bean salad, which also can be made ahead and pulled out just before dinner.
I love that kebabs are so versatile too. Using a simple formula of vegetables, protein and seasoning or marinade, the possibilities of ingredient combinations are almost endless! Here are my best tips for how to mix and match kebabs for easy dinner on the grill.
Step 1: Choose Your Protein
Pictured Recipe: Jambalaya Sausage Kebabs
Most meats, fish and vegetarian proteins can be skewered for kebabs, so pick whatever you have a hankering for. Here are some protein ideas to try:
- Smoked sausage
- Halloumi cheese
Step 2: Choose Your Favorite Seasonal Veggies
Pictured Recipe: Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Kebabs
Here's your chance to use up all those fresh seasonal vegetables, so mix it up and add some color. The key to evenly cooked kebabs is to choose veggies that will cook at the same rate as your protein. For example, pair quick-cooking shrimp with asparagus or another vegetable that cooks equally fast.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red potatoes (par-cook them first)
- Summer squash
- Sweet onions
Step 3: Cut Equal Pieces
Another way to ensure that everything cooks evenly is to cut the veggies to a size that will cook at the same rate as the protein. I love the way sweet onion tastes on the grill, but it can char too quickly, so I like to leave it in chunks with several layers, so it cooks at the same rate as the other goodies on the skewer.
Step 4: Make Your Marinade
Pictured Recipe: Chicken Fajita Kebabs
Whisk up a simple marinade with this basic formula:
- Grated garlic
- Red-wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- Seasoning (try fresh or dried herbs, spices, lemon pepper, Creole seasoning or fajita seasoning)
Add your kebab ingredients to the marinade and refrigerate until you're ready to start making your kebabs.
Step 5: Start Skewering
There are generally twice as many veggies to skewer as there is protein, so when spacing the ingredients evenly, try to plan ahead. With certain proteins (like tofu and chicken), you'll want to skewer them separately from the vegetables, since they cook at a slightly different rate.
Choose flat skewers to keep your food from spinning when you flip the kebabs and to help you get the most even cooking on each side. Metal skewers conduct heat well, so your food will cook quicker than food on bamboo skewers.
Step 6: Grill Them Up
Pictured Recipe: Tofu Kebabs with Zucchini & Eggplant
Time to get cooking! Here are some tips for grilling up the best kebabs every time.
Oil the Grill: Prevent your kebabs from sticking by oiling the grill just before setting the skewer onto the grate. To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.
Leave Them Alone: Try to let each side of the kebab brown, before turning. Otherwise, the protein in particular may stick to the grill. When it is ready to be turned, it will release!
Let Them Rest: If your kebabs are packed tight, the veggies may not be cooked all the way to the center, even though they're browned on the outside. Once you bring them in off the grill, cover them with foil to allow the carry-over heat to cook them through.