Monday, July 1, 2013

Grilled Vegetable Kebabs With Halloumi Cheese & Zatar

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs With Halloumi Cheese & Zatar recipe

Every once in a while {but not that often} the thought of cooking dinner sounds like a chore rather than a pleasure. When that mood strikes me in the midst of the summer grilling season, I make this dish. It's every bit as delicious as all the other recipes that have earned their way on this blog, but with an even quicker prep time. 

But here's the thing: whether you are cooking for a crowd or a few, most people feel robbed if the kebabs are void of steak, shrimp or chicken. I get it. Growing up in Pittsburgh, summer meant relishing those meaty kebabs, which we called "shish kabobs", and which my mother would prepare so well with the assistance of either a tangy Italian vinaigrette or a sweet French dressing marinade. The vegetables would get nice golden char marks and the meat or poultry would form a savory-sweet crust that only the right marinade and grill can create.

So can vegetarian kebabs stand up to their meaty cousins? Yes - when you enter in Halloumi cheese. Halloumi gives such a delicious flavor and substantial texture that people will marvel at the fact that a meatless kabob could be so satisfying.  

I've talked about Halloumi before as it serves well as a focal point in vegetarian meals. It's a cheese from Cypress with a high melting point so it flourishes when grilled:  the saltiness mellows, the edges form a savory brown crust and the texture becomes "meaty". As a matter of fact, when I made these grilled halloumi wraps for my father {who I suspect has a politely hidden intolerance for vegetarianism} he observed, with a hint if surprise, that he felt like he was eating chicken. I think that was a carnivore compliment.  

Like any kabob recipe, make this one your own by using any grill-friendly vegetables you like. This time I used zucchini and tri-colored cherry tomatoes. Simply brush the skewers with olive oil, season with zatar (a middle eastern spice mix which I picked up from Penzeys) and grill for a few minutes. Boom! A nutritious, great tasting dinner you can whip up with zero brain power and little effort. It took me about 20 minutes to complete last night.  

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs With Halloumi Cheese & Zatar

8 wooden skewers, soaked in water as instructed
2 zucchini cut into chunks
24 cherry tomatoes
8 oz halloumi cheese cut into large chunks {avoid cutting too small to ensure the cheese remains whole during grilling} 
olive oil

Heat grill to medium {about 350 degrees}.

Thread vegetables and cheese on skewers. Brush all sides well with olive oil and then season with zatar. Grill until golden char marks form, turning occasionally for a total cook time of about 6 or 7 minutes. 

Makes 8 skewers.
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