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!

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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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Comments

  • 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.

    eren
  • Nothing beats grilled citrus!

    Stephen
  • 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?

    Snehal
  • 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!!

    Allergic
  • 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!

    Jim
  • 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.

    in la
  • 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.

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

    Melody
  • 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.

    Anne Dudfield
  • 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.

    michael bash
  • 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.

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

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

    Sarah Mo
  • 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!

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

    andreea
  • 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

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

    Linda
  • 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.

    Mary
  • 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...

    Anita D'Souza
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