I swear I’ve not forgotten about you. Summer is busy getting away from me. I took the last couple weeks trying to slow it all down. No luck on that front, but I did enjoy several nice days with my parents and one whole week of pure playtime with my little one while his big brother had a week with the grandparents. It was nothing short of delicious. We slept in, rode roller coasters, fed a giraffe (yes, a real one!), shook our booties to a concert in the woods, made homemade ice cream and cruised around the city atop one of those touristy double decker buses. We also had some deep, uninterrupted conversations punctuated by periods of snuggling. Priceless.
I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time at the grill. Last summer our backyard was torn up, the grill covered and tucked away. In a sense, this grill-happy streak is making up for lost time. I’m a touch embarrassed to admit my recent discovery, but it has so changed the way I grill that I have to share it with you here, even if you end up pointing at me and laughing because you’ve known this all along and where have I been all this time? I’m willing to take that risk. Ready for it? Okay…
I have always loved the concept of kabobs. An eye-catching rainbow of colors and flavors neatly stacked onto a stick? Aw, yeah. But the trouble is that they’re usually underwhelming. The meat is dry and flavorless and the vegetables are either raw or soggy. In fact, on just one stick, you can have a combination of overcooked and undercooked. Um, no thank you. And the simple solution is…(drum roll, por favor)…one food item per stick. That is the answer. No pretty color schemes or funky patterns. Just. One. Ingredient. Per. Stick.
See. You’re laughing. You already knew that. This is how you’ve always done it. Fine, go back to reading non-news on the internet or checking out your college boyfriend’s vacation photos on Facebook.
But if you didn’t know that and you’re still reading, I can tell you what this single a-ha moment has meant for dinner at my house. Tender, juicy meat. Crisp, lightly charred vegetables. Happy campers all around. And because I live with a pack of boys, just imagine the delight in having a plate full of sharp sticks at the end of the meal.
A few hints to keep it simple. First, be sure to soak your skewers if you’re using the disposable bamboo kind. This helps them from becoming too charred and fragile on the exposed ends. Second, chop up the meat into kabob-sized pieces before marinating to make sure you’re covering the most surface area. Finally, take the meat out of the fridge for about 30-45 minutes before you thread it onto skewers and grill it. Let it sit out at room temperature so the flavors can soak in more and it’s not so cold when you set it on the grill.
As for vegetables, it’s best to keep it simple. I like to use cherry tomatoes (pictured above), zucchini cut into chunks, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion and small potatoes. I brush them with olive oil, add a little salt and they’re ready to go. To end the meal, there are a number of fruits that grill up beautifully. My favorites for kabobs are pineapple, mango and grapes. Stone fruits are also lovely grilled, though I never think it’s worth the effort to thread them on a stick when you can just plop them right down onto the grate in halves.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes that are easily made into single ingredient kabobs: