Summer has arrived and along with it are a plethora of weekend backyard parties with friends and family. BBQs are often a staple of these soirées. With the summer heat, we are always looking for lighter flavour packed dishes to put on the grill that will even impress all those carnivores.
In addition to vegetables being fantastic for your health, there are other reasons why you might want to consider using vegetables instead of meat on the BBQ. Grilling vegetables is a healthier option as they do not produce heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are carcinogenic compounds that result from grilling meats at high temperatures.
However, there are techniques – such as marinating – that you can use to reduce the production of these compounds in meat. Also, ensure you don’t overcook your meat and start with a clean grill. Leaner meats give off fewer juices and therefore cause fewer flare-ups, which also reduces HCA production (and burning).
Along with the sun and heat, summer brings an abundance of locally grown foods. Purchasing local produce is a great way to support your community and to ensure you are getting quality, fresh ingredients. We love farmers markets. They are the perfect place to pick up fresh, locally grown produce for delicious summer meals. The majority of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at your nearest farmers market in the summer months.
A great option to add to your market vegetables is Halloumi cheese. This delicious cheese is made in Cyprus (an island in the eastern Mediterranean) and has many unique characteristics that make it an excellent addition to a vegetable kebab.
Halloumi is ideal for grilling because it browns but does not melt when heated. Traditionally, it is made from a combination of sheep, goat and cow milk. It is then kept in salt brine along with a very small amount of mint leaves to inhibit mould growth.
A Canadian variety, made solely from cow’s milk, is available at specialty food stores. If you have not tried Halloumi you are missing out. Go get some!
This recipe was inspired by a summer spent in the Greek Islands. Along with Halloumi, the vegetables in the recipe are staples of this region. Olive oil, fresh herbs, cinnamon and honey are abundant in Greek cuisine.
- 1 large red onion
- 1 large zucchini
- 2 large bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
- 16 cherry tomatoes
- 250g Halloumi cheese
- 8 - 10 inch skewers
- Herb Sauce:
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, packed
- ¾ tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Soak skewers in water for 10 minutes.
- Cut red onion, zucchini, bell peppers and halloumi into 16 bite sized (1-1 ½ inch) pieces each. Leave tomatoes whole. String vegetables and halloumi onto skewers (2 pieces of each per skewer).
- In food processor combine garlic, basil, cinnamon, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Process on high for approximately one minute until ingredients are finely blended.
- Using a pastry brush, spread the sauce evenly over the surface of the kebabs.
- Preheat grill or BBQ on high.
- Grill kebabs 3-5 minutes per side or until browned.
Note: This is a special guest post by two fabulous dietetic students in the UBC dietetics program. Thanks to Alice Wyche and Laree Monty (pictured below)!
Gross, G. A., Turesky, R. J., Fay, L. B., Stillwell, W. G., Skipper, P. L., & Tannenbaum, S. R. (1993). Heterocyclic aromatic amine formation in grilled bacon, beef and fish and in grill scrapings. Carcinogenesis, 14(11), 2313-2318.