Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Tzatziki

Yogurt Marinated Chicken KebabsRecently, I demonstrated how to make this dish for a promotional shoot on cooking with herbs for a grocery store and was reminded of how good it is.  Best when prepared ahead, it’s a recipe seemingly made for these early spring days when you want to make the most of the day, but still end it with a fresh and satisfying meal.  The fact that you can do so much ahead also makes it a smart choice for company.

Rosemary Sprig
If you’ve never used yogurt as a marinade, you might find the concept strange, but it is the perfect remedy to the common complaint of dry chicken kebabs. The yogurt helps keep the meat moist even if it spends a little too much time on the grill.  The lemon juice adds brightness and the rosemary, with its characteristic aroma, roots the dish firmly in the Mediterranean.

When I first developed this recipe, it was difficult to find large containers of Greek yogurt at the store so I used plain. Nowadays, the opposite is true and you should feel free to substitute Greek yogurt if you feel inclined.   Don’t however substitute a regular cucumber for the hothouse called for in this recipe.   The skin of a hothouse cucumber is much thinner and less bitter than your regular cucumber and makes for a better tzatziki.

Ready for Grilling

If you would like to round out the meal, but still keep it simple, add hummus and grilled vegetables to the menu.  If you are willing to spend a bit more time, I’d  recommend serving the kebabs with this recipe for Farro Salad with Bell Peppers and Olives.   It’s one of my favorite sides and would make an ideal accompaniment to your spring table.  Happy cooking!

Close-up Chicken KebabsChicken Kebabs with Tzatziki – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4

For the kebabs:
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup plain yogurt
Juice from 1 lemon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
Flatbread or pitas, for serving
Special equipment: wooden skewers (soaked in water for at least twenty minutes)

For the tzatziki:
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ hothouse cucumber, seeded and grated
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary.   Add the chicken cubes to the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.   Toss the red onion wedges with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the tzatziki, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.   Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Stir the sauce before serving and adjust the seasoning if needed.

When ready to grill the kebabs, preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread the chicken pieces and red onion slices on the wooden skewers being careful not to overcrowd the skewer. Grill the chicken and red onion for about 10 minutes total. Turn often for even cooking.   Serve the grilled chicken and red onion wedges with the tzatziki. Or wrap the chicken and red onions with a flatbread or pita for a delicious Mediterranean sandwich.

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