What’s a summer grill without kebabs? There’s no denying that sizzling skewers over a hot flame are sure to please anyone. The aromas of charred vegetables and tastes of fresh produce are the epitomes of the warm months. Coming from ancient Greece, kebabs, or kebaps, have grown from 17th century meat on a sword to a 21st century cookout staple. There are so many ways to make kick-ass kebabs- from choosing the right ingredients to using your grill properly. Flavor combinations are abundant with kebabs so your opportunities for food innovation are prime. Kebabs are easy to make subpar, but with a few of these tips you can really transform these skewers to reach their full potential.
From proper preparation to unique ingredients, here are some innovative ways to upgrade this grilling classic:
Preparation and Cooking
There are some important rules to follow when making kebabs. First and foremost, choose what skewers you are using. You have two options: metal or wood. Metal skewers are awesome because they are reusable and more environmentally friendly than wood. Try to find ones that are about 12 inches long as this makes a good individual portion size. For convenience, wooden skewers are easy because they can be thrown out after use and can be found in nearly any grocery store. The only drawback to wooden skewers is that they can burn on a grill, so they must be soaked for at least 20 minutes before use. When it comes to actually skewering your kebabs, thread your ingredients so they touch, but are not squished together so your skewer becomes too heavy. Use a medium-high to high grill and make sure you rotate your kebabs so all sides get cooked.
Marinade and Dip
It’s all about the marinade when it comes to kebabs. Marinating plant-based ingredients like tofu will make all the difference to your flavors. Marinade your ingredients for at least an hour, or overnight if you want full flavor. You can choose to make a marinade, like one of these 6 Fantastic Marinades for Tofu, or you can simply choose a store-bought sauce. Make sure to avoid sauces with excess sodium and sugar as these are found in common marinades. One of the most classic marinade for kebabs is a BBQ marinade. Learn How to Make Awesome BBQ Sauces and Rubs for a skewer that will scream summertime. Or, for an easy, homemade marinade simply drizzle olive oil over your ingredients and sprinkle salt and pepper on. You could also use coconut oil for the upmost health benefits. If you marinade with a sauce that is light and simple, opt for making a dipping sauce to go along with your kebabs. This Creamy Green Avocado Basil Dip or a simple salsa would allow your kebab ingredients to taste super fresh and super tasty.
Mix n’ Match
Most kebabs have meat loaded on them. Beef, chicken, pork, shrimp- the options for meat eaters are bountiful. Making kebabs plant-based, while still being hearty is incredibly simple. Replacing these typical meats with plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh or seitan can offer a satisfying alternative. All of these proteins absorb marinades well and grill nicely so you won’t even miss the meat! These Spicy Balsamic Tofu Kebabs or Tofu Vegetable Kebabs with Peanut Sauce are filling and simple to put together. After you figure out what proteins you want to use, it’s time to load on the veggies. Not only are veggie-loaded kebabs the healthiest option, but nothing beats the crunchiness and freshness of summer vegetables. Some vegetables that I like to put on a kebab include mushrooms, peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes. To shake things up a bit try grilling up some Brussels sprouts. Before you get grilling, cut your vegetables in large chunks and throw them right in with your marinade.
Go sweet and make kebabs for any meal of the day! Skewers make the perfect tool for eating fruit off on. Raw fruit kebabs make fun party treats or appetizers. Try using berries, melon and pineapple for kebabs that are sturdy and that have a variety of different sweet flavors. For a true fruit kebab, grill them up. These Grilled Fruit Kebabs use bananas, peaches and mangos to make a warm, summery dessert. Drizzle a sauce on them like this Chili Chocolate Sauce for something a little more decadent. For more fruit inspiration check out these Juicy Ways to Spruce Up Fruit Salad.
Taste the world with your kebabs. The flavor combinations you can try out are endless. Using vegetables, plant-based proteins, marinades, and even fruit, try out one of these three different ways to dress up your kebab:
Pineapple doesn’t have to belong on just your pizza or in your fruit salad. Using pineapple on a kebab is a serious game changer. The sweetness of pineapple balances out the smokey flavors from the grill. These Pineapple Island Vegan Kebabs are about to get really juicy.
Turkish cuisine is known for kebabs. Go for plant-based proteins over Turkish lamb or beef. Meaty vegetables such as eggplant are also great to grill and can be seasoned with red pepper, cumin and oregano. Make this Vegan Coconut Yogurt Tzatziki for a dipping sauce, or try out this Mint Tahini for something cool.
Skip the saag paneer and the chana masala. Pass on the rice and naan bread. Indian-based kebabs are a great way to get all the delicious flavors of Indian food but in a healthy way. This Tandoori Tofu can easily be skewered for some plant-based protein. Use firm tofu in place of paneer for a cheesy flavor. For easy Indian flavors, marinade in oil and curry powder. Curry powder has great health benefits such as anti-inflammation, bone protection and even cancer prevention. For a great side make a chutney to accompany your kebabs. This Indian Mint and Cilantro Chutney would balance well with gingerly spices.
Get grilling and make some kebabs! Great for pleasing a crowd, kebabs are an outdoor cookout staple because of their adaptability and simplicity. With proper preparation and a little imagination, kebabs can be a fun and exciting meal from your grill. For more kebab ideas check out these 5 Tips for Amazing Summer Skewered Food and these 6 Cool Vegan Foods on a Stick. Share your thoughts! What’s your best kept kebab recipe?
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Lead Image Source: Grilled Seitan Kebabs With Creole Coconut Sauce