I had been working in catering for a whole two weeks when the request came in: a client wanted a specific menu for her late summer party, one that boasted seasonal flavors and colors and lean protein. It also had to be served hot to those who arrived early, but should be equally appetizing if eaten at room temperature later in the evening.
She also asked me to avoid gluten, and to keep the vegetarians in mind, and if possible, to serve something that wouldn’t require a fork and knife as she felt finger foods were more appropriate for her planned gathering. I felt the panic building inside me with each request, which I noted in chicken scratch on a loose sheet of paper. What could I possibly suggest to meet all of her criteria?
After poring over my page for almost an hour, I took a deep breath and told my boss that I was stumped on a menu and had no idea what to suggest. She let her eyes quickly scan the list of requirements, and before she reached the last of them she told me “shrimp or fish kebabs will work well for this.”
At the time it pained me to admit that I didn’t know fish or shrimp could be served that way, but I sure was glad to learn because it’s saved me more times that I care to count when it comes to hosting my own summer soirées.
I love that most kebabs can be cooked in advance and reheated, served at room temperature, or dished up hot from the grill on the day of a party.
These shrimp kebabs came to be when I realized there wasn’t anything easier than threading some lightly marinated seafood and seasonal tomatoes on wooden skewers, grilling them to golden perfection, and setting them out for friends to nosh on, hot or not.
When making kebabs it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- wooden skewers can be used, just be sure to soak them for 30 minutes in cold water to avoid burning the ends.
- use metal skewers if that’s what you have available
- avoid overcrowding ingredients on your sticks
- use similar-sized pieces for even cooking.
Over the years I came to learn that it’s possible to serve all kebabs in this manner, including those made from beef, chicken, or vegetables. For me, the secret is to serve a sauce on the side, perfect for dipping and adding a boost of flavor if the meat is no longer warm and the seasonings have mellowed just a little.
|Shrimp and Tomato Kebabs||
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pint (about 2 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes
- 12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoons lemon zest
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, shallot, and oregano and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and tomatoes and toss. Let rest for 10 minutes to let flavors infuse the shrimp.
- While the shrimp is marinating, place all of the dip ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and well combined. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl, cover, and store in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high. Thread the shrimp and tomatoes onto the skewers, alternating between the two. Place the skewers on the oiled grill and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until the shrimp is cooked through.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with feta dip on the side.
Have you ever been stumped when planning a menu? What are some of your secrets for success?