It’s Memorial Day and a tradition is to celebrate with a barbecue. But instead of the hamburgers and hotdogs my parents would have thrown on the grill, I’m thinking of chicken and vegetable kabobs and taking advantage of some of the season’s wonderful fruit with homemade berry sorbet for dessert. (I've included directions for making the sorbet without an ice cream maker. If you are grill-less, the kabobs can be broiled in the oven instead of cooked on a grill.)
Serve these chicken kabobs with a salad, some crusty bread or pita, and some hot sauce or fresh salsa. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses barbecue sauce over it all for a unique tang. (Pomegranate molasses is available in Middle Eastern markets as well as online or in some specialty or larger supermarkets.)
Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs
1 ¼ cups olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup minced yellow onion
4 zucchinis cut into approximately ¾” chunks
1 red onion cut cubes or wedges about ¾” thick
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and cut into ¾” cubes
2 ½ pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes
Make the marinade. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, peppers, salt, oregano, cumin, garlic and minced onion. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade. Add in cubed chicken and vegetables to the remainder. Cover and marinate for at least an hour or up to several hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in water for about 30 minutes before cooking. Thread chicken and vegetables on skewers. Grill over medium high heat. Baste as needed with reserved marinade, turning occasionally until chicken is cooked through.
Pomegranate Molasses BBQ Sauce
Makes about ½ cup
½ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix well. Heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Pour into container or serving bowl and allow to cool. Mixture will thicken as it cools.
Fresh Berry Sorbet
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups berry puree (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or a combination)
juice of ½ lime
Heat water and sugar together until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool completely. Taste the puree to see how sweet it is. Add about 1 ½ cups of the sugar syrup (reserve the rest for another use). Use more or less syrup to taste. When the sorbet is frozen it will taste less sweet. Combine puree with 1 ½ cups of the cooled syrup (reserve the rest for another use) and the lime juice. Refrigerate until cold. Put into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. When the sorbet is finished, pack into a freezer-safe container and freeze for an hour or two to harden. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
Adaption for Those Without Ice Cream Makers:
Once the strawberry puree-simple sugar mix is cold, pour it into a metal pan or other freezer safe container that is wide and flat. Place in the freezer and stir and scrape the mixture every half hour or so with a sturdy fork until frozen. Remove from the freezer about 20 minutes or so before serving and scrape to break up and serve. The result will be grainier but just as tasty.
A version of this post first appeared in the June issue of the Temple Beth Abraham newsletter, the Omer.