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Yield: 4 servings • prep time: 40 minutes (not counting marinating), cook time: 10 minutes
½ cup full-fat, whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls. minced garlic Zest of two lemons
2 tsp. each dried thyme leaves and oregano
1¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper tsp. cayenne pepper
Chicken and Vegetables
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (approximately 1½ pounds) cut into 1-inch cubes (about 24 pieces)
2 colored bell peppers
1 large red onion
Basil Lemon Herb Mop
Palmful minced fresh basil
1 tsp. minced garlic
3–4 tbls. lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Whisk marinade ingredients together. Stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate 3–6 hours. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces. Cut onion into 1-inch-thick wedges. Set aside. Whisk herb mop ingredients together. Set aside.
Remove chicken from marinade. Thread skewers as follows: 2 pieces pepper • 1 piece onion • 2 pieces chicken • 1 piece onion. Repeat two more times. Grill over high heat until vegetables and chicken are charred on edges and chicken is cooked, about 3–5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and brush kebabs with herb mop and serve.
When you thread chicken on skewers, leave a bit of space between pieces so chicken cooks through quickly and thoroughly. If using wooden skewers, wrap exposed ends with foil to prevent burning. Serve with a side of couscous and/or a simple green salad.
Cooking with the Bible
Some of these ingredients have ancient biblical histories. Mary would have used them in preparing meals for her family. It’s fun to share this information as you make the kebabs.
• The chickens of biblical times were not unlike our chickens today. Over 5,000 years ago, chickens were domesticated and bred mainly for cockfighting. It wasn’t until several hundred years before Christ was born that they were bred for food.
• Yogurt was a common food during biblical days. Milk was stored in animal-skin containers, and, after a while, the milk curdled into a kind of yogurt. I grew up eating homemade yogurt and make it today from my mom’s recipe.
• Olive oil was a common culinary ingredient in Jesus’ time. Olive trees can live for almost 1,000 years! • When the Israelites were fleeing from bondage in Egypt, they complained about the lack of food in the desert, including onions and garlic, which grew in abundance in Egypt.
• There’s a legend that basil was found growing near Jesus’ tomb after his resurrection. It’s still one of the most popular culinary herbs today.
• Thyme and oregano are descendants of the wild herbs used as flavorings during biblical times.