The trick to perfectly tender skewers.
Israeli skewers are one of my favorite dishes to prepare for summer holiday grilling. I use beef, lamb or chicken, depending on what calls me at the market. Another option is to use ground beef or lamb shaped into loaves to make Adana-style skewers. Sometimes I will mix and match and make a variety of meats on different skewers, especially if I have guests over, to accommodate different tastes and dietary restrictions. The key factor is giving the meat enough time to soak up my sumptuous marinade and become tender before grilling. I use a flat top grill, but this recipe could also work on a charcoal or gas grill, or even an indoor grill pan. When marinated and coated in Israeli spices and served with fresh summer vegetables, hummus and pita bread or lavash, you can’t go wrong.
Marinade time: Up to 3 hours in the refrigerator or ½ hour at room temperature
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
For 4 people with 2 skewers each
For the skewers:
- 1 ½ – 2 POUNDS lamb (shoulder or thigh meat) cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch cubes (will yield 4 to 5 cubes per skewer)
- 2 bell peppers cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch squares (I use red, yellow or orange for color)
- ½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cucumber, seeded or seedless, cut into thick slices
- 8 long skewers soaked in water 30 minutes before cooking
For the pickle:
- ½ sweet onion
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 5 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1 lemon squeezed and zested
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. za’atar
- ½ cup olive oil
- Place the onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and zest, black pepper, salt, za’atar and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Pour the marinade over the lamb and vegetables and toss well to ensure everything is coated.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours (if time is tight, marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes).
- Assemble the skewers by threading a piece of lamb, alternating with vegetables, leaving space between the pieces to allow air to circulate for even cooking.
- Brush grill or grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat.
- Place the skewers on the grill, turning every quarter turn every two minutes, until the meat is completely browned, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on how you prefer your lamb to be done.
If time permits, before grilling, let the skewer pieces sit for about 10 minutes to come to room temperature.
You can use any vegetables you prefer. That’s what I had on hand, but mushrooms, summer squash or zucchini also make great additions.
I love serving them with pita bread and dips like hummus and babaganoush on the side.