My Favorite Grilled Kabob

My Favorite Grilled Kabob Recipe


Because we're at the height of grilling season, I thought I'd share my favorite way to prepare grilled kabobs. For those of you with my book, this recipe might look familiar (page 102), but I thought I'd call it out on its own because there are a couple things that make it special. The first thing is the slather - I serve my kabobs with a special red pepper and walnut spread after they come off the grill. But that's not all, in addition to that is the grilled lemon factor - once you start grilling lemons along with your kabobs, it is hard to turn back. The lemons come off the grill transformed, their sourness rounded and soften by time in the flames. The warm lemon juice squeezed over the kabobs just before serving adds a beautiful and fragrant dimension of flavor.

I cite the combination of mushrooms, tofu, red onions, and lemon in the kabobs you see here - all the ingredients play nicely together. If you are one of those people who feel like it isn't a real BBQ without meat, swap away - the tofu could certainly be substituted with your protein of choice.

The sauce I spoke of above is called muhammara (or mouhamara), it is a Middle Eastern spread that quickly garnered a favored position in my kitchen, and why it plays second-fiddle to hummus and baba ghanoush escapes me. The great thing about it (in addition to how it tastes) is that it's multi-purpose spread, slather, sauce, dip, etc, that can deliciously accent not only kabobs, but many of your favorite dishes. Toasted walnuts round out the flavor of the beautiful red pepper base, and a rich splash of sweet pomegranate molasses lends a subtly sweet backnote to the red chiles. I suspect this is a traditional recipe that bends to the taste of the cook preparing it - my version is lighter on the cumin and red peppers than some of the other recipes you might come across. You can easily make it thicker or thinner depending on how you are going to use it. Kabob recipe aside, this has become a favorite dip/spread (I've made it four times in the last two weeks!). It's perfect with flat bread, crackers, pita, chips, or anything else crunchy that you have on hand and it comes together in a flash.

Enjoy, and happy grilling and slathering!

 
 
 
 

My Favorite Grilled Kabob Recipe

From Super Natural Cooking, Muhammara-Slathered Kabobs, page 102.

My recipe calls for whole-grain bread crumbs, but regular bread crumbs will work just fine. I usually make my bread crumbs from whole-grain bread, so that's what I call for.

Look for pomegranate molasses in ethnic foods aisle or with the sweeteners in natural foods stores. If you can't find it, substitute an equal amount of pomegranate juice (though, it is really not the same). Also, selecting the right tofu is essential here. Look for the extra-firm variety swimming in minimal liquid. As a time-saver, I¹ve used jarred roasted red peppers (water-packed) with good results. If you don't have a grill, the kabobs can be cooked on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes.

Muhammara Slather:
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
flakes or 1 small red chile

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 to 3 roasted red peppers
1/2 to 1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Kabobs
2 red onions, each cut into 6 wedges
3 lemons, each cut into 4 lengthwise wedges
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 12 equal-sized cubes
12 mushrooms
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
fine-grain sea salt

Special equipment: 6 wooden skewers

Prepare a medium-hot grill; if the temperature is right, you should be able to hold your hand a few inches above the grate for 4 or 5 seconds.

In the meantime, make the muhammara. Using a hand blender (preferably) or a conventional blender, puree the chile flakes, cumin, walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, and red peppers to a smooth, even consistency. Mix in the warm water in increments to achieve an easily spreadable consistency similar to a thick yogurt. If you¹re going to use it for dipping, you might want to leave it a bit thicker. Stir in the salt and adjust the seasonings if needed.

When constructing kabobs, I don¹t bother soaking wood skewers in water. I just load them up with food from tip to tip, which seems to solve any problems with the wood igniting. Onto 6 medium-length skewers, thread an onion wedge, a lemon wedge, a cube of tofu, and a mushroom, then repeat. Brush each kabob generously with olive oil and season with salt. Put the kabobs on the grill and cover. Cook, rotating regularly and brushing with olive oil every few minutes, until the onions are tender, about 12 minutes altogether.

To eat, slather with the muhammara, slide off the skewers. and squeeze the juice from the roasted lemons over everything.

Makes 6 kabobs.

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Your Comments


Anita D'Souza
June 27, 2007

Heidi,

How long do you think the muhammara will keep if refridgerated? I'll be at a camping trip/family reunion next week and am not planning on bringing my blender with me, but I'd love to make this for the party.

Thanks...

 

Mary
June 27, 2007

This looks SO delicious. I think that with the muhammara nobody would miss the meat. Thanks for highlighting this recipe, with all of the others in the book, I might have overlooked it.

 

Linda
June 28, 2007

lovely. and vegetarian. i'll have to try this out. it looks so fresh and delicious. grilled mushrooms rock my world!

 

vici
June 28, 2007

h.
Thanks last week for the link to Wayne's page. He does nice work. I just subscribed to "Bene" magazine. Also, I finally got around to making that vanilla frozen yogurt. Fantastic!...v

 

andreea
June 28, 2007

i never even heard of muhammara. so glad to have the recipe here. thank you for sharing.

 

VeggieGirl
June 28, 2007

wow! I'll have to give this kabob recipe a try... I really appreciate the wide range of tastes you cater to with your recipes - as a vegan, I enjoy and am inspired by all of your vegan-friendly culinary creations. thanks!

 

Sarah Mo
June 28, 2007

Heidi-- This is the most exciting recipe you have ever posted! What kind of mushrooms do you recommend using for this recipe?

 

Nicole
June 28, 2007

I agree about the grilled lemons...they are wonderful!!

 

Stephanie
June 28, 2007

This looks fantastic. I have two questions: (1) do you have a brand of tofu you prefer to use for grilling, and (2) do you think portabello mushrooms would work well with this? They are really the only mushrooms that I like, but I've never had them with this sort of Middle Eastern sauce.

 

michael bash
June 28, 2007

Since the chances of finding pomegranate molasses or jiuce in the real world are minimal, try substituting Balsamic vinegar which is what many many realstic cooks recommend.

 

Anne Dudfield
June 28, 2007

that sounds great; you can use the grill to roast the peppers, too, and just leave it hot while you do the kabobs.

I read a great hint for keeping the skewers from burning (if you don't want to load them end-to-end, which isn't always possible): soak a bunch of them for a while, and then just stick them in the freezer. that way you'll always have grill-ready skewers without that "oh shit we forgot to soak them" moment.

 

Melody
June 28, 2007

This looks wonderful! But where on earth can I find Pomegranate Molasses? I've never seen (or heard of it) before.

 

Mike Perry
June 28, 2007

That does sound delicious, especially as I'm a veggie. Must admit though I didn't know what a Kabob was. Had to look it up in the dictionary - ah, a kebab!

Great blog,
Mike.

 

in la
June 28, 2007

If you're lucky enough to live in a city that has a substantial Persian or other Middle Eastern population (like L.A.), then you should be able to find pomegranate molasses at any number of little corner markets (along with super-cheap spices!) Otherwise, make your own by reducing pomegranate juice or following one of the many recipes online, like this one.

 

Catie
June 28, 2007

The link below has a recipe for pommegranate molasses. I've never tried it, but it seems very simple.

http://www.recipezaar.com/86849

 

Jim
June 28, 2007

Huh. Usually I despise the use of tofu in anything but, say, Japanese cooking, but this looks like something I could grill up with my vegetarian ladyfriend, so I'm gonna give it a try!

 

Allergic
June 28, 2007

These days it seems I am allergic to everything. Does the Muhammara Slather absolutely require nuts? What do you recommend as an alternative?

Love your recipes!!

 

Snehal
June 28, 2007

Grilled Kabobs with Tofu! I have to absolutely try it .. thnx Heidi! I have pomegranate powder at home, do you think that should work instead of the molasses ... it is pretty strong. Could i mix it with 2 tbsp of water?

 

Stephen
June 28, 2007

Nothing beats grilled citrus!

 

eren
June 29, 2007

My friends will scold me if I haven't made muhammara for any party/gathering I'm involved in. I love it and make it often. I make it more like a dip. I skip the tomato paste and add garlic. I think the garlic is essential. In fact, in response to Anita D'Souza's question, it's even better if it sits in the fridge for half a day so the flavors can blend. Here in Turkey, they also prepare it thick with cheese, feta-type cheese, or leave the walnuts in chunks. And the molasses is a must but it's still muhammara without it.

 

Heidi
June 29, 2007

Sarah Mo, mushrooms with some structure work best so they won't fall apart wehn skewered or when rotated over the flames. Larger pieces of portobello can work nicely in addition to the small button mushrooms.

On the tofu front, I always always buy organic soy products. Soy Deli Nigari tofu is readily available here and good for skewering. Doesn't fall apart at all.


-h

 

Debo Hobo
June 29, 2007

I just recently started eating tofu and I love it. I have been purchasing it from Central Market and Whole Food Market already prepared. But I think with the help of your recipes I may be able to start preparing it at home myself. Thanks!

 

Jennifer Iserloh
June 29, 2007

I love pomegranate! Can anyone recommend their favorite brand of pomegranate molasses- I would love to try it out.

 

Anonymous
June 29, 2007

you mean KEBABS

 

Sarah
June 29, 2007

Would pomegranate paste work? I have about half a bottle of that in my fridge.
Thanks for posting this recipe. I can't wait to try it! There are so many interesting, exciting things about it--adding lemons, the slather, using tofu which I never would have thought of...

 

Alice Q. Foodie
June 29, 2007

The spread sounds great - thanks for the recipe Heidi. I have the book and I love it!

 

Deborah Dowd
June 30, 2007

I have never heard of muhammara, but it sounds delicious, and, like hummus, very versatile. Can't wait to try this!

 

dani Spies
June 30, 2007

I love summer...and l love kebabs!! These look great...and that spread sound delicious!!
Love you're blog...I need to buy you're book!

 

Carrie Cooper
June 30, 2007

I think my sister will like this. Thanks.

 

megan
July 1, 2007

having made your muhammara many a time, I can vouch for its utmost deliciousness. Definitely worth seeking out pomegranate molasses for.

Also, Anita: mine keeps for about a week (but it tends to get eaten before that) in a jar -- I buy a jar of roasted red peppers, toss all of them into my food processor, clean it out, and then refill it with muhammara.

Thank you for this amazing recipe, Heidi!

 

John
July 1, 2007

I used pomegranate jelly in place of the molasses, and it worked great. The jar cost me $1.69 at my local natural-foods coop, which struck me as a far superior option to paying $3.99 for POM-brand pomegranate juice. Plus, I had plenty of leftover jelly for many weeks of breakfast bread -- for what else would I use pomegranate molasses? (Which my coop did not have, by the way.)

 

Jade
July 1, 2007

additional use for the pomegranate syrup/reduction/molasses - pour a dish of olive oil and add a ribbon of the pomegranate. EXCELLENT with a good crusty bread or REALLY good pita.

these kabobs look fabulous, by the way. love the lemon idea - how about limes? think i'll skip the onion though, and maybe add some little tomatoes.

 

Debra
July 2, 2007

I have your book (just got it for my birthday) but have used your website recipes for a year or so, too.

I made these for a dinner party on Saturday and the whole thing was a big hit. I used the peppers packed in water, and though I rinsed them first, they were a little too citric-acid-y. I'd use fresh (if they were available) next time.

The roasted lemon idea was the best part. I used the last few Meyers lemons on my tree.

I also made a vegan pasta dish from my Greens cookbook and a green salad, so there was lots of good farmers market food!

 

Steamy Kitchen
July 2, 2007

I just wanted to say that I love coming to your site - you provide such "honest" food.....meaning when I read your blog, see your photos, try your recipes and hear nothing but my kids happlily chewing and eating at the dinner table, I get a very warm, nourishing feeling. Its the most wonderful feeling for a mother. This is what I mean by honest.

 

Ian
July 2, 2007

Mmmmm.... This would really be great with some ribeye steak chunks and chicken!

 

CJ
July 3, 2007

for whoever was confused, "kabob" is a perfectly acceptable spelling, more commonly used in america. it is just a romanisation of a non-english word anyway.

this recipe sounds so awesome. wish i had a (bbq) grill...might have to try them in the oven w/a quick finish under the (broiler) grill to get a charred finish, but i'm sure it won't be the same.

ok, so this brings to mind a partially unrelated question: since the UK tends to use the word grill meaning the broiler above the oven, is there a different word/distinguising modifier to describe the outdoor charcoal type grill? anyone?

 

JP
July 9, 2007

Made this the other night and it turned out beautifully. I will indeed never grill kebabs without lemon wedges ever again. The muhammara was delicious, though the consistency was a bit off from what I'd previously encountered in Middle Eastern restaurants. I think perhaps I'll try to make it in the mortar and pestle next time.

Thanks for the lovely site!