Chicken Kebabs

On a recent hurried trip to the grocery store, I grabbed what I thought was a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. A somewhat polarizing ingredient, I happen to love the sun-dried tomatoes that come packed in olive oil. I think they are an excellent addition to salads, sandwiches, pasta (especially my favorite pasta recipe ever. Yes, it involves bacon!), sauces — just about any dish, really. That’s why I always stock my pantry with sun-dried tomatoes.

However, on this certain afternoon, I wasn’t really paying attention to the jar I grabbed and when I got home, I realized I had purchased sun-dried tomato pesto instead of plain old sun-dried tomatoes! While I’m a fan of certain canned and jarred items, pesto and other premade sauces are not one of the ingredients I naturally gravitate towards and I was disappointed. I didn’t want to throw the pesto away, so I’ve been incorporating it into a variety of dishes and guess what? Turns out I love sun-dried tomato pesto as much as I love regular sun-dried tomatoes!

This is a super easy chicken kebab recipe that is incredibly versatile. Use whatever vegetables you want and if you prefer boneless, skinless breasts, use those instead of thighs. Just don’t leave out the sun-dried tomato pesto! It really adds to the flavor and texture of the kebabs.

Chicken Kebabs

5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil, julienned
2 lemons, juiced
2 heaping tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
8-12 shallots, separated into individual cloves, if some are large, slice into 1/2-inch chunks
4 large metal skewers OR 4 large wooden skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the garlic, basil, lemon juice, sun-dried tomato pesto, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Generously season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the chicken and vegetables to the marinade and toss to combine, making sure that each of the ingredients is coated in some of the oil and garlic mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
  4. Prepare a charcoal grill to medium heat.
  5. Assemble the skewers: slide a piece of chicken onto a skewer, then follow with a slice of zucchini, and piece of shallot. Repeat, alternating chicken, zucchini, and shallot until all of the skewers are filled up and there are no more ingredients in the bowl.
  6. Cook on the prepared grill for 2-3 minutes per side, turning so that each side hits the grill, about 10-12 minutes total.
  7. Remove from heat and enjoy immediately.

Serve 4.

Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay

Shrimp has always been a Sweeney family favorite. We love shrimp grilled, roasted, poached, sautéed, and even in ceviche. We love shrimp so much that sometimes my sister is called ‘lil shrint.’ During the summer, there’s no better way to cook shrimp than on the grill. My dad recently introduced me to Maryland-style shrimp — it’s basically shrimp that’s been coated in Old Bay seasoning. It’s finger licking good, but I decided to take it one step further by adding in a couple other ingredients. This recipe is quick, easy, and oh-so-scrumptious. It’s got everything necessary to become a new family favorite!

Grilled Shrimp With Old Bay

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deviened
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Old Bay
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl or big plastic ziploc baggie.
  2. Add the olive oil, garlic, chili powder, Old Bay, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss everything to combine, making sure that all of the shrimp is coated in the oil and spices.
  3. Set aside to marinade for 15 minutes. If you want to marinade it longer, place covered and closed, in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
  4. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill. You’ll want it to be medium high heat. If you can hold your hand 5 inches above the rack for only a couple of seconds, it’s hot enough.
  5. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and place directly on the grill. They cook very quickly so pay attention. When they curl and start to turn pink, flip and cook for 1 minute longer, about 3-4 minutes total. Serve immediately with lots of napkins and grilled bread, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Grilled Peach and Pancetta Sandwiches

6 slices slices of pancetta
2/3 loaf ciabatta
1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, grated
10 large basil leaves
1 peach, pit discarded, halved and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup gruyère cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Foil-wrapped brick, for grilling

  1. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is browned and crispy, about 10-12 minutes, flipping once half way through. Remove with tongs and set the cooked pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels. Do not discard the pancetta fat that is in the skillet.
  2. Slice the ciabatta in half lengthwise. Scoop out some of the bread that is on the bottom half of the ciabatta. Save for another use or discard. Repeat with the top of the ciabatta.
  3. Place the bottom on a work surface. Cover evenly with the grated fontina cheese. Top with basil leaves, peach wedges, and pancetta. Cover evenly with the parmesan and gruyère. Season with salt and pepper. Place the top of the sandwich over the cheese to cover.
  4. Brush both sides of the sandwich with the reserved pancetta fat.
  5. Place the sandwich over indirect heat on a grill, which is at medium-high heat. Set the foil-wrapped brick on top of the sandwich to flatten. Close the grill for 8 minutes.
  6. Open the grill, remove the brick, and flip the sandwich. Place the brick on top of the sandwich and close the grill’s lid for another 8 minutes.
  7. Open the lid and move the sandwich so that it is over direct heat. Grill for 30 seconds, flip, and grill for another 30 seconds to achieve pretty grill marks. The sandwich should be browned on the outside with melted cheese on the inside.
  8. Remove from the grill and let rest for 1 minute. Slice into 4 pieces and enjoy immediately.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Grilled Romaine Salad

From Sonia Meyer

1 large eggplant
2 small zucchini
1 large head of romaine lettuce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon red chili flake (optional)
Dijon Vinaigrette: place the lemon on the grill and cook until brown, about 5 minutes before juicing to make the vinaigrette

  1. Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and pat dry. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds, and place on a baking sheet.
  2. Slice the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise and place on a separate baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle all the vegetables with olive oil, about 1/4 a cup total, and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper, and chili flakes, if you feel like some heat.
  4. First grill the eggplant and zucchini until brown and soft, about 5-7 minutes on each side over medium heat. Note that the zucchini may cook quicker than the eggplant.
  5. Remove from the grill and place them back on the baking sheet to cool.
  6. Put the romaine lettuce cut side up and roast for 5 minutes on each side until grill marks appear and the leaves just start to wilt. Remove from the grill and place back on baking sheet to cool.
  7. While the vegetables cool, make the Dijon Vinaigrette, but use the grilled lemon to make the lemon juice.
  8. Cut the vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces and place into a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the veggies right before serving. Toss to combine and enjoy with your favorite grilled entree.

Serves 4-6.