A shish kebab is a skewer with meat and vegetables, and is usually grilled. It may feature lamb, beef, seafood or chicken as well as vegetables. Meats used in shish kebabs are usually marinated before cooking. The color added by the vegetables, used to separate the meats, help the kebabs appear more appetizing.

Kebabs may be prepared using meat only, as the satay skewers of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Skewers may also be prepared using only fresh fruit, cheese or sweets.

The term shish kebab comes from the Turkish words meaning skewer and

roast meat. Originally the meat was roasted on the swords of the Turkish soldiers.

Today shish kebabs have expanded worldwide and are found in most cultures. Oriental kebabs are Satays, featuring a skewered meat with a dipping sauce, usually of peanuts. Japan has Yakitori, a grilled skewered chicken dish. In France they are called brochettes, meaning skewer. Portuguese espetadas are beef kebabs. The beef is marinated in wine and they are roasted over an open fire. In America the shish kebab is prepared on the grill (or in the oven) and may be an appetizer, main course, vegetable or fruit side dish.

Shish kebabs have a long history—they are described in Homer’s Odyssey!

Indoor Beef Kebabs

3 pounds sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 large sweet or Vidalia onion

1 large green bell pepper

1/2 pound white button mushrooms

1 pint cherry tomatoes

4 small potatoes cut into half or 8 fingerling potatoes

Soak skewers in water for a minimum of 30 minutes to 2 hours. Preheat oven broiler to high. Cut sirloin into 2-inch cubes. Soak beef in olive oil and BBQ spice or other blend for 15 minutes. Cut onion and bell peppers into bite-size chunks. Cut the mushrooms in half. Cut potatoes in half or use fingerlings as they are. Precook potatoes in boiling water until ready to eat. Thread sirloin cubes, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms onto soaked skewers. Brush lightly with olive oil and Pensy’s BBQ spice or other favorite herb blend. Thread separate skewers with cherry tomatoes. Place sirloin skewers in pan and cook at 430℉ for 8 minutes, until sirloin is browned. Turn over and broil an additional 3to 4 minutes again until sirloin is browned and vegetables are cooked. Broil tomatoes separately, just until the skin pops. They will only take 7 minutes total.

Chicken Satay Kebabs

1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoons Gram Marsala Spice Blend

1 Tablespoon siracha

2 cloves garlic, crushed or 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Soak skewers in water for a minimum of two hours. Slice chicken breasts into “chicken fingers shape” or flat chunks. Combine all ingredients in a zip-lock bag or covered glass dish. Marinate over night. Drain chicken pieces and pat dry. Thread chicken pieces on skewers. Grill on both sides until done, or bake at 450℉ for 15 minutes. Do not overcook or chicken will be dry. Serve with Coconut Rice and Curry Condiments.

Gram Marsala Spice Blend:

1 teaspoon ground cardamon

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all spices. Yield: 6 teaspoons or 2 Tablespoons. There are many variations of Gram Marsala; this is the one I use. Recipe doubles easily. Store in a glass spice jar with tight-fitting lid.

Coconut Rice:

1-1/4 cups Jasmine rice

1 can (15 ounce) coconut milk

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes.

Fluff to serve.

Condiments for Kebabs and Curries:

Plain yogurt, as a sauce

Mango Chutney, such as Major Gray’s

Toasted Peanuts

Flaked Coconut

Golden Raisins, plumped in hot water for 10 minutes and well drained

Cucumber slices

Orange segments

Tomato slices, or diced

Apricots or Mangoes, small dice

Watermelon chunks or balls

Anything else you wish to include

Prepare all condiments. Serve with Coconut Rice to accompany Kebabs and Curry dishes.

Caprese Mini Kebabs

Frilled toothpicks or small size skewers for skewers

1 package mini size mozzarella balls, cut each in half

1 package mixed yellow and red grape tomatoes

1 bunch fresh basil

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Thread toothpicks with mozarella ball, basil leaf, grape tomato, half mini-size mozzarella ball, grape tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve at room temperature.

Shrimp & Veggie Kebabs

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium yellow bell pepper

1 medium sweet (Vidalia) onion

1 medium zucchini

12 to 15 medium white mushrooms. If mushrooms are large, slice in half and use 6 to 8

12 to 15 cherry tomatoes, optional, or cook tomatoes on separate skewer

12 (or more) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed

Vegetable or olive oil

Louisiana cajun seasoning

Bamboo or wooden skewers

Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil or brush lightly with olive oil. Thaw shrimp if using frozen. Rinse and prepare all vegetables. Cut bell peppers into bite-size squares. Cut onion into 1-inch chunks. Cut off blossom and stem end of zucchini; cut into thick circles. Remove mushroom stems; if large in size, cut mushrooms in half. Thread skewers, inserting skewer through head and tail of each shrimp and all the vegetables, alternating, using 2 shrimp on each skewer. Brush filled skewers all over with olive or vegetable oil. Sprinkle each skewer with cajun seasoning. Roast Shrimp Kebabs in oven for 10-15 minutes at 400℉. Turn kebabs over and roast an additional 12-15 minutes or until shrimp is cooked and vegetables are tender. Try to set at least one end of the skewers on the rim of the pan.

If cooking on the grill, cook over indirect heat until veggies are fully cooked and shrimp are tender.

Banana Split Kebabs

1 pint small strawberries, rinsed and capped

1 small pineapple cut into chunks

1 8×8-inch pan brownies, cut into 1-inch squares

2 or 3 bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks

Chocolate sauce or chocolate ganache

3 ounces chopped nuts, pecans or peanuts

Wooden skewers

Wash and prepare fruit. Drain very well. Pat dry. Cut brownies into 1 inch squares. Place strawberry, pineapple chunk, brownie square, banana chunk on skewers, alternating kebab items and using 1 piece of each. Drizzle with chocolate sauce or chocolate ganache. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.

Rainbow Fruit Kebabs with Yogurt Dip

Rainbow Fruit:

Strawberries, cherries, or red skin apples, cut into chunks, watermelon cut into chunks

Orange segments with peel left on , peach chunks or slices, canteloupe, chunks or balls or 1 small can mandarin orange segments well drained and patted dry

Pineapple chunks, pear chunks or slices

Kiwi chunks, honeydew melon, Granny Smith apple chunks or slices

Blueberries

Plum cut into chunks or slices, blackberries

Wash and prepare rainbow fruits. Cut the fruit in chunks or segments. Thread fruit on skewers. Serve with Yogurt Dip: 1-1/2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup honey, combined.

Rainbow Veggie Kebabs

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a glass jar and shake to blend completely. Set aside.

Vegetables for skewers:

16 cherry tomatoes

1 large red bell pepper, cored, cut into 1-inch squares

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 orange bell pepper, cored, cut into 1-inch squares

1 medium-small yellow squash, stem and core ends removed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 yellow bell pepper, cored, cut into 1-inch squares

1 zucchini squash, stem and core ends removed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 green bell pepper, cored, stem and core ends removed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 or 2 large red onions, peeled, quarted and cut into bite-size chunks

8 purple potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half

Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Wash and prepare all vegetables. In a pot of boiling water, cook purple potatoes until fork tender. Drain. In another pot of water cook carrot chunks until fork tender. Drain. Set potatoes and carrots aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables with vinaigrette dressing. Toss to completely coat vegetables. Thread vegetables onto skewers, in rainbow order, red, orange, yellow, green, purple. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if desired. Grill on preheated grill for 5-7 minutes per side, until the vegetables are completely cooked. To cook in oven, preheat to 400℉. Line rimmed broiler pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bake 10 minutes and turn skewers over and bake additional 5-7 minutes until veggies are cooked through. Makes 8 skewers.