It’s Remmi here! So, I have an interesting, eh sort of, story: when I was writing Global Cooking for Kids, cookbook where I took one country from each continent then made a meal from that cuisine, I began thinking of the great variety of cuisines in the world. Now a few years later, I am reminiscing on the lovely nights spent researching other countries and their foods and their cultures and how I could not cover it all in a single book! So, I am doing a little continuation of it on my blog, exploring other countries and their culinary culture. I am starting off with some of my favorite cuisines to eat and cook with and hopefully you will too, after you try these recipes! Check beck every 1st and 15th of each month for a new cuisine! So my first stop on this adventure is Greece!
When I researched Greece I figured out that kebabs were quite popular, although they generally serve lamb, I decided chicken would be healthier, but you can still get a lot of flavor – it’s really all in the marinade.
I used a simple yogurt based marinade and you really want to brush your skewers with that and let that chicken soak up all the spices and citrus, I promise that the wait is worth it. In the marinade, I also included olive oil, which helped build flavor profile and a great texture. However, olives are thought of as the most important food to the Ancient Greeks (and is still very important in modern times). Olives play a big part in Greek history as well. It’s believed that the Greek goddess Athena gave the first olive tree to Athens and then it eventually spread to the rest of Greece.
I thought a nice and simple couscous pairs really well to let that chicken skewer really shine! But, I did add cherries to the couscous for a touch of sweetness and because foods like apples, pears and cherries grew wild and were readily accessible throughout Greece, fruits and nuts played a big role in the Greek diet.
I also discovered that dinner, or mesirmeriano, is a midday meal in Greece and happens to be the main meal of the day. Usually, Greeks sit down to eat around 2pm. At this time, a lot of shops and businesses generally close and then everyone goes home to have their main meal, leisurely savoring their company around the table and the wonderful courses. Although, I prepared my chicken skewers during the day and let them marinade and grilled them at night.
My family really enjoyed my spin on a classic Greek dish, and I hope you do, too!
Hugs and Veggies,
Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cherry Couscous
Prep Time: 25 min (without 4 hours in refrigerator)
Cook Time: 20 min
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if you don’t like heat)
- Zest from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any excess fat and cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 large green bell peppers, cut into large chunks
- Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill
- 4-5 bamboo skewers, soaked in water about half an hour before cooking
- 1½ Cups (uncooked) couscous (prepared according to directions)
- 1¼ Cups cherries (pitted/medium dice)
- 1½ t Lemon zest
- 2 T lemon juice
- ¼ Cup almonds (slivered/toasted)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- In a medium pan, add prepared couscous, cherries, lemon zest, lemon juice, almonds, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm and set aside.
- Thread the chicken onto wood skewers, alternating with the red onions and green bell pepper. (Tip: I like a full skewer, so I was able to fit about 6 piece of chicken on mine, but you can put anywhere from 4-6 depending what you like).
- Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spoon or brush the marinade over the meat, coating well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (Tip: You can refrigerate overnight if you want – to prepare for the next day. This will help seal the flavor of the marinade in the chicken).
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and use tongs to rub over the grates several times until well coated. Grill the chicken kebabs until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer skewers to a platter and serve over couscous.
Suggested Side: Greek Salad
Who doesn’t love a nice fresh salad to go with their meal? Greek salad is super fresh and easy to make. The base ingredient is cucumber, which is also one of the most common vegetable and plants eaten by Greeks. Some other delicious and popular foods are asparagus, fennel, chickpeas, and celery.
Greek Salad (Horiatiki)
Prep Time: 15 min
- 1 large cucumber, sliced in about 1/4″ rounds
- 3 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 6-8 Greek black olives
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C feta cheese, crumbled
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Mediterranean oregano
- Prepare ingredients as directed. Mix together cucumbers and tomatoes.
- Layer onion slices on cucumber and tomato mixture. Sprinkle olives over salad. Sprinkle cheese over salad.
- Drizzle with olive oil (only enough to coat, about 3 tablespoons). Add a light splash of vinegar (about 1 tablespoon or so).
- Sprinkle oregano over salad.