Grill season is officially here.
Okay, I guess most people may call Memorial weekend the kickoff for firing up the grill. But when it is 85 degrees here in Atlanta and my pool is open, I don’t want to heat my kitchen up–I want to throw my dinner on the grill and leave the heat outside!
Obviously, chicken is an easy option to just pop on the barbie and glaze with some barbecue sauce.
However, these skewers are just as easy and taste so much more flavorful. And the cilantro pesto takes this dish over the top, but it is not necessary if you are really looking to speed the process up (although, come on, throwing things into the food processor is easily done while the chicken is on the grill.)
And if you are nut free, or despise cilantro (CRAZY!!!) then by all means, leave the pesto out but don’t count this meal out.
These skewers are slightly sweet and have a touch of heat. The cilantro pesto is tangy and fresh and gives the dish a completely different take. And pictured here I served this dish with a sweet and savory mashed sweet potato that could not be easier.
For the mash: I either pop 2 large sweet potatoes in the oven for 1 hour at 375 or wrap them in foil and throw into crock pot for 4 hours on high if I am really keeping the heat out of my kitchen. Then I mash the suckers with one over ripened banana, salt and pepper and a splash of orange juice. Personally, I like to add a dash cayenne pepper or 1 finely diced jalapeno for heat, but when I am making it for children I leave the heat out.
As far as grilling the chicken, if you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak in water for at least 30 minutes so they do not catch fire–not so much fun! I have invested in metal grilling skewers so that I just use those (no pre-soaking required) and remove my ingredients from the skewers before serving–those babies get hot and are a dangerous tool. I really don’t want a sword fight to start up with my kids–okay, my husband and son.
Fire up the grill and get cooking up some flavor by a recipe that was inspired by a recipe I saw nearly 9 years ago–yes, it is that GOOD and that EASY that I have been making it ever since.
Spicy Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 2 tablespoons peanuts
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch cubes (and if you hate this step, be sweet to your butcher and they will do it for you--and in my experience this has always been free.)
Combine the dry seasonings together and then rub over chicken cubes. Skewer onto metal skewers or wooden skewers that have been soaked for at least 30 minutes. Either let the chicken marinade in the fridge for up to 12 hours or grill immediately.
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken on one side for 5 minutes, flip and grill for another 5 minutes. Place chicken on top rack, or over indirect heat and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
To make the pesto: pulse the cilantro, parsley, peanuts, lime, and garlic until well minced. Add the oil and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*For any leftover pesto, serve over roasted potatoes, grilled fish, or tossed with whole wheat pasta for a fresh take on a pasta salad.
*For PALEO: use cashews in place of peanuts in pesto. Still delicious!