The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 5, 2013

It's grillin' time!

Karen's Kitchen

TARBORO — With the weather finally warm, hot even, it's time to enjoy the grill. Although, winter doesn't stop me from grilling. I grill all year long, but it's more fun the summer. This week, let's look at some great kabob recipes.

You skewer something; add a salad and some bread and you have dinner in no time. This is an easy way to use your grill.

I'm starting with the sweet stuff first. How good do you think watermelon is on the grill! It's delicious. The sugar in the fruit helps it to char and get a good crust. The kids will love these kabobs.  These are mixed with feta cheese. The combination is a great taste.

The next recipe is a little different. It uses tofu. Tofu has never been one of my favorite things. I've tried it a lot of different ways. However, on the grill, it picks up a flavor that is unique.  It's worth a try and I think you will be happy with the result.

The next kabob is a beef and chicken kabob. It has mushrooms and peppers but you can add any veggie that you like. Be sure that the beef and chicken are about the same size.

The fourth recipe is chicken and shrimp. It uses limes. You will need fresh limes for this recipe, not the lime juice in the squeeze bottle. I actually add limes to the kabobs. But, I love limes.

The last recipe uses fruit again. This one uses cantaloupe, peaches, and any other seasonal fruit that you want to put on a stick! The kick with this recipe is the fiery chile sauce that goes with it. You'll love it.

Watermelon Skewers

16 (1-inch) cubes peeled seedless watermelon

8 large basil leaves

8 cubes (3/4 inch) feta cheese (6 ounces)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Soak 8 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.

Heat grill to high. Carefully thread 2 watermelon cubes onto each skewer. Grill, flipping, until grill marks appear, about 1 minute per side.

Carefully thread 1 basil leaf and 1 feta cube onto each skewer. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil.

Tofu Kebabs

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for grates

1/2 jalapeno chili, seeded

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch lengths

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, weighted and cut into 12 pieces

2 summer squash, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat grill to medium. In a food processor, combine cilantro, 1/4 cup oil, jalapeno, ginger, lime juice, and scallion greens. Blend until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Combine tofu, scallion whites, and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Thread tofu and scallion whites onto four skewers, and then thread squash onto four skewers.

Clean and lightly oil hot grates. Grill squash kebabs, covered, until tender, 11-13 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill tofu kebabs until scallions are soft, 4 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally; brush with cup cilantro sauce and grill 30 seconds more. Serve kebabs with remaining cilantro sauce.

Beef & Chicken Kabobs

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 pinch ground ginger

2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1 1/2 cups whole fresh mushrooms

1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes


In a large re-sealable plastic bag, mix the teriyaki sauce, honey, garlic powder, and ginger. Place red bell peppers, onion wedges, mushrooms, beef, and chicken in the bag with the marinade. Seal, and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

Discard marinade, and thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers, leaving a small space between each item.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 10 minutes, turning as needed, or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

Lime Chicken and Shrimp Kabobs

2/3 cup vegetable oil

3 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (16-ounce) can pineapple rings, drained, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined

In a small bowl, whisk oil, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper.

In a shallow dish or re-sealable plastic bag, combine bell pepper, onion, pineapple, chicken, and shrimp. Pour lime mixture over chicken mixture; cover dish or seal bag, and place in the refrigerator to for 4 to 6 hours to marinate.

Heat grill to 350 to 400 degrees F.

Using tongs, remove chicken, vegetable pieces, pineapple and shrimp from marinade, discarding the marinade. Onto the skewers, thread 1 piece of chicken; 1 piece of pepper, 1 piece of onion, and 1 piece of pineapple, alternating to fill the skewer. Do the same thing with the shrimp alternating shrimp, pepper, onion, and pineapple to fill the skewer.

Place chicken kabobs on the grill, cover with grill lid, and cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout, with no pink center, turning occasionally.

Place shrimp kabobs on the grill, cover with grill lid over and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, and are cooked throughout, turning once.

Remove skewers from grill and serve immediately.

Seasonal Fruit and Melon Kabobs with Fiery Chile Sauce

2 honeydew melons

2 cantaloupes

8 ripe pears, peaches, or apples

18 (6-inch) long bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 to 30 minutes

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/2 cup lime juice

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeds and veins removed and roughly chopped

4 tablespoons red chili powder

Dice the fruit into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Place the fruit on the skewers, alternating fruits for flavor and visual appeal. Place into a non-metallic shallow pan.

Cook the sugar and water together in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes). Allow the syrup to cool. In a blender, add the sugar syrup, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, and red chili powder. Blend thoroughly, roughly 1 minute.

Pour marinade over fruit kebabs and marinate for at least 1 hour turning kebabs occasionally.  

Preheat the grill to low heat and grill the kabobs on both sides until you see brown grill marks and the fruit is warm, roughly 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the fruit kabobs from the grill and brush with the remaining chili sauce for a real fiery fruit kabob finish!

Did You Know?

Follow these tips to learn how to grill kabobs:

    •    If using wooden skewers, soak in water for thirty minutes before threading the food on. Wooden skewers are best if you are cooking for a big crowd as they can just be tossed. Metal ones should be clean and lightly oiled or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

    •    Make sure all items are cut into pieces about the same size. Cherry tomatoes are great for grilled kabobs and make a good size guide for other foods as well.

    •    One of the best grilling tips is to be sure to leave some space between food pieces, especially meats. Nothing is worse than pulling chicken off a skewer to see that the middle isn't cooked! It's a health risk too!

    •    All foods on a skewer should require approximately the same cooking time. Don't put raw meat and veggies on the same skewer as there is no way to time them well unless you are cooking the highest quality steak to only medium or medium rare. Shrimp and vegetables are good partners.

    •    If you put chicken or pork tenderloin and veggies on skewers together, have the chicken or pork cooked so that it just finishes and gets flavor on the grill. Chicken kabob on the grill will be dry if overcooked.

    •    Vegetables should be somewhat soft and cook quickly. Zucchini, summer squash, red onion wedges, cherry tomatoes, eggplant (salt 30 minutes and rinse to remove bitterness), small to medium sized mushrooms, and bell peppers are great choices!

    •    Some recipes actually involve grilling cheese, so don't be afraid to try some cheese on your kabobs! Halloumi, a Greek cheese that has a styrofoam-like squeak to it when eaten raw, stands up great to being grilled for a few minutes over medium to low heat. Add it to skewers with soft veggies only; meat takes too long to cook.