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Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen”

Za’atar Kebabs with Vegetables

Za’atar Kebabs with Vegetables

Faith Kramer is a food writer and recipe developer concentrating on the foodways, history and customs of the Jewish diaspora. She develops recipes and writes about Jewish customs and

food as well as travel and global ingredients.

“I have hosted and attended Israeli-style barbecues here in the United States, and while I have tried recipes with grilled chicken hearts and/or livers (part of the traditional Jerusalem grill), I think American tastes resonate more with the modern Israeli favorite of boneless chicken thighs or parigot,” Kramer says.

In her cookbook, “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen” (e Collective Book Studio), Kramer’s za’atar kebabs include chicken and vegetables.

“For the kebabs, I marinate the cubed chicken in lots of garlic, olive oil and za’atar — the popular Levantine seasoning mix — and I grill them on skewers with onion, zucchini and red bell peppers,” says Kramer, who uses a regular American-style grill.

“I serve hummus and vegetable sticks to nibble while the skewers grill,” she says. “I make a large, Israeli-style chopped vegetable salad and add flatbreads or challah, and a rice, bulgur or freekeh pilaf to serve alongside. Dessert is usually a dairy-free cake, baklava and/or a fruit sorbet.”

She adds, “This makes a great menu for any outdoor barbeque or shabbat dinner.”


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon za’atar (see notes)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

4 zucchinis, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into

1-inch pieces

Vegetable oil for the grill

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf

parsley or cilantro

4 lemon wedges


Cut the chicken into 1½-inch chunks. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne, black pepper, salt, za’atar, garlic and onion. Important: Set aside and save 1/4 cup of marinade for basting later.

Add the chicken to the remaining marinade and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to

1 day, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from the marinade and set aside on a plate. Add the zucchini, onion and bell pepper chunks to the marinade and stir until evenly coated. Remove the marinated vegetables to a bowl or plate and discard marinade.

Thread the chicken and vegetables onto 8 to 10 long skewers.

Lightly brush a grill grate, electric indoor grill or stovetop grill pan with vegetable oil and heat to medium-high heat. Grill the skewers, adjusting the heat up or down as needed to avoid scorching or are-ups. Turn occasionally and baste with the reserved marinade. Cook the chicken until it’s rm to the touch, with clear juices, 10 to 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on or off the skewers, sprinkled with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side.

Notes: If za’atar spice blend is not available, use a mix of 1 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano leaves, 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme leaves (do not use ground oregano or thyme), 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac and 1/4 teaspoon

salt. The sumac can be replaced with 1/2 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest.

Serves 4.

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