Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetable Skewers

Copyright © ShulieMadnick

I made these skewers for the 4th of July this past weekend, but they are a perfect easy summer recipe for any weekday or weekend this season. 

I keep busy despite going on month four of the quarantine though I could do much better with time management. I wrote, "At Little Sesame in Washington, D.C., social justice is on the menu," for the News section of The Forward. It tells a story of giving that became mutually beneficial. Giving and cooking for the less fortunate, which helps not only social justice causes but also rescues some in the restaurant industry, like Little Sesame, in the process. 

I am also writing a paper about Sigd, an Ethiopian Jewish holiday for an English class in college. I was familiar with some of the foods and social struggles of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel and with the politicians, celebrities, pop singers, and models that came from the community. Still, I was pretty clueless about the community's religious and cultural traditions. This cultural paper assignment was a perfect excuse to learn more about the community's fascinating history, religious and cultural rites and rituals. 

The story of the Ethiopian Jews is now better known thanks to a Netflix Movie, The Red Sea Diving Resort, starring Chris Evans and Michael Kenneth Williams. Operation Brothers, featured in the movie, was a covert Mossad operation in the early to mid 80's. It shows the dangerous rescue mission of the Ethiopian Jews who walked miles from Northern Ethiopia to refugee camps in Sudan, and suffered about 4,000 casualties on the journey. In Sudan the Mossad opened a fake diving resort as the front for this incredibly risky humanitarian relief effort.

Speaking of traditions and culture, this coming Sunday, we are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary. We usually forget, but it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't remember where our henna ceremony (mehndi) and wedding albums were, which I ended up finding stashed in a closet downstairs. This year our henna ceremony and wedding anniversaries fall on a Thursday and a Sunday, the exact days they fell on back on July 9 and 11, 1987 in my hometown, Ashdod, Israel.  It occurs every eight years or so (not sure of the frequency) but haven't kept tabs until this year. 
Jonathan and Shulie, henna ceremony, July 9, 1987 (All Rights Reserved)

Author's notes:

I was introduced to this recipe over three decades ago when we first lived with Jonathan's parents in Massachusetts.  Jonathan's mom couldn't recall the origin of this recipe. Many of the recipes she makes are from synagogue sisterhood cookbooks as far as I can remember. What struck me the most about this recipe at the time was how it exclusively uses dry spices. I switched the vegetable oil to olive oil, and at times I use fresh garlic and fresh herbs mixed in or instead of powders. I also like to use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of the bottled, store-bought one most Americans use. 

1. My strategy is to prep the vegetables and marinade first. Only then I cut the chicken into cubes on the same cutting board. That way, if I am making vegetarian skewers for vegetarian diets, I don't cross-contaminate. Regardless, I do not wish to cut vegetables on the same cutting board as the chicken, so I prep the veggies first. This way, I don't have to wash the cutting board or use a second one. 
2. You can use mushrooms or any other vegetable you have. I used what I had handy. 
3. Pre-soak the wooden or bamboo skewers in warm water for 10-30 minutes, so they don't split while threading and cooking. Soaking also makes sure bamboo skewers won't burn while cooking on broil or the grill. 

Mediterranean Chicken and Vegetable Skewers


2 - 2 1/2 lbs chicken, cubed large
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 - 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 zucchinis, sliced 1/2 inch
1 yellow bell pepper, cubed large
2 red bell peppers, cubed large
1 red onion, cubed large
1-pint cherry tomatoes

Metal or wooden or bamboo skewers 


Soak wooden or bamboo skewers (see author's notes above). 

Cut vegetables and make the marinade first. For the marinade, add the olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, basil, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into a large container with a lid and mix. Taste the marinade for salt and adjust, if necessary. Cube the chicken into large cubes (as seen in the photograph above) and add it into the marinade. Mix and keep with a lid on refrigerated for several hours or overnight. 

Thread the chicken and vegetables through the skewers (see photo above) and place in a broiler pan or a large rectangular and slightly deep pan. Baste with some of the excess marinade and broil for 10 - 15 minutes on one side, turn and broil for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Baste from the juices dripping into the pan a couple of times throughout the broiling process. Best served hot, but leftovers are good too.

*The skewers can also be grilled.

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