Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vegetable Kebabs

Tomorrow's the Fourth, y'all, and I've got one more outdoorsy, celebratory, colorful, healthy, and yummy dish you can whip up for the occasion. It's veggie kebabs! I know you might be thinking, it's kabobs. Well, I shared this little anecdote in my first ever kebab post but I'll share it again. There's a show I love called Flight of the Conchords which is about a New Zealand duo trying to make it big in music in New York City. In the v. first episode, Gemaine (who also voices a minion) and Bret (who also plays an elf in LOTR) go to a party thrown by their friend Dave. Gemaine is attracted to this girl, Sally, and to woo her, he takes her out for a kebab and walks on the outside of her and pays for half of their taxi ride.

So, that's why I call it a kebab. Because Gemaine and Bret say so.
This is such a simple recipe and it's more of a suggested preparation than a step-by-step set of directions (which is why you won't find a recipe page down at the bottom). I think that if you're making a party, that it would be kind of fun to leave out a big tray of all different vegetables alongside a stack of skewers and allow people to make their own. The grill master (whether that's you or someone else) can (wo)man the grill and plop on people's 'babs and yell out when they're done. A word to the wise, if you're using metal skewers, there's no real skewer prep work necessary, except making sure they're clean. But, if you're using bamboo or wooden skewers, they should be soaked in water for a few hours so they won't burn up on the grill.

Ingredient suggestions:
bell peppers
squash - zucchini or yellow squash
red onion (it's prettier than regular ol' yellow)
mushroom
eggplant
brussels sprouts
asparagus
new potatoes (parboil these since they'll have a long cooking time)
sweet potatoes (parboil these as well)
carrots
grape tomatoes
endives
fennel

You'll also need:
skewers (I got my metal ones from Target, 3 of them came in a pack for $1)
olive oil
salt & pepper

And you know what I was just thinking? You could also do a dessert version with fruits that are awesome on the grill - pineapple, mango, peaches, apricots, plums, pluots (a.k.a. apriums), watermelon, apples, strawberries, coconut, bananas, melon, figs - and the best part is that most grilled fruits can read savory or sweet. You can finish these off with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of feta and herbs (like rosemary, parsley, cilantro, or basil) for a savory option or with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of herbs - either mint or basil - for dessert.
Basically, to assemble these, you've just go to cut your vegetables to relatively uniform sizes, skewer them, drizzle generously in olive oil, and toss onto a smoking hot grill. I like to alternate the colors a little, but that's just my neuroses.

Let the skewers cook until the vegetables start to char up nicely. The reason for dressing them simply in olive oil and nothing else prior to cooking is to ensure that the vegetables get a chance to get some awesome grill marks on them. When you salt vegetables, you draw the water out of them and that creates a moist barrier between the surface of the vegetable and the grill which makes it harder to get good color.
Once the skewers are gorgeously charred, tender, and off the grill, it is time to season them. I like just a simple dusting of salt and fresh cracked pepper but you can use garlic salt, fresh or dried herbs, a squeeze of lemon, balsamic vinegar, whatever you prefer.
So everything above is vegan and vegetarian but what I'm about to share is totally not. I made those kebabs to accompany this delicious skirt steak. I seasoned it simply with Montreal steak seasoning and popped it on a hot grill for all of three minutes; just long enough to get a good sear.
By the way, how much do you love my new plate? It's melamine but it looks like those disposable paper plates. I'm in love with it.
This was our lovely giant spread. We had the vegetable kebabs, of course. We also had skirt steak with cilantro chimichurri, cilantro rice, and kale with garlic and bacon (the kale was from our garden). What a vibrant and colorful meal, huh? And healthy to boot. Yes, we've got some red meat and some bacon and white carbs, but we've also got plenty of vegetables and herbs and it's all about moderation.
The kebabs were a delicious side dish and the charring definitely deepened the flavors of the vegetables, especially the onions. Since onions have a decent sugar content, caramelization makes them taste so delicious.
YUM.
xoxo.

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