When I think of Greece I think of white-washed buildings with bright blue roofs, a sparkling Aegean Sea, long lazy summer days and the best “street-cart” chicken kabobs, warm pita and tzatziki I’ve ever had–of course that was a long time ago when I was backpacking. But summer still reminds me of that special time in Greece.
Well, I’m not in Greece but the Pacific Ocean in Laguna is a pretty good substitute for the Aegean–don’t you agree?
I decided it was time for a Laguna Beach version of My Big Fat Greek Chicken Kabobs. I wanted to recreate that chicken kabob memory–and it was a huge success. I‘ve tried lots of different marinades for kabobs, but this one is absolutely the best. I think it’s the combination of the herbs, the fresh lemon juice and the red wine vinegar that makes it so good. And unlike so many marinades that require 24 hours to get maximum flavor, this marinade is best in 45 minutes–2 hours max because of the lemon.
INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN KABOBS WITH TZATZIKI
For the chicken marinade
- 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small lemon juiced, about 3 TBS.
- 1 TBS. red wine vinegar
- 3 small cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper or to taste
For the veggies
- 2 large red bell peppers, diced into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 small zucchini (about 1 lb.) sliced into rounds, about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 large red onion, diced into 1 1/2 inch wedges
- 2 TBS olive oil
- salt and pepper
1. In a large bowl whisk together 1/4 cup oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, thyme, coriander 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade and massage the marinade into the chicken.
3. Refrigerate for 45 minutes up to 2 hours. No longer or the lemon with start to “cook” the chicken.
4. Toss the veggies in the olive oil, put in a separate Ziploc and refrigerate.
5. Preheat a grill to medium high.
6. To assemble the skewers, put all the ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and get your skewers out. (I like to use metal skewers, but if you’re using wooden ones, make sure you soak them in water for at least 1/2 hour so they don’t burn).
7. Start with the red pepper, red onion, zucchini and 1-2 chicken pieces and repeat.
They should look like this. Cook on a medium high grill until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes depending on your grill. When they’re done, remove, squeeze a lemon over them and cover with aluminum foil to let the juices set.
For the tzatziki:
- 1-2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped into very small pieces
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1-2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 TBS fresh lemon juice
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 1 TBS chopped dill
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
It’s best to chop the cucumber, season with the salt and let it sit in a strainer. Then take a clean tea towel or cheese cloth and squeeze out most of the moisture so the tzatziki doesn’t get watery.
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and taste. You may want to add more lemon, dill or garlic.
This is best if you can make it a few hours in advance.
You can still see some of the chunks of cucumber in mine.
Now you’re ready to eat! Serve with Santorini Sunrise cocktails, Greek salad, warm pita bread and rice pilaf. One bite and you won’t care you’re not in Greece. You’ll just be happy to having the best kabobs on this side of the Aegean!