Food on a stick is always more fun especially when it's Lebanese chicken skewers with zucchini babaghanoush. Serve the skewers and babaghanoush with warm pita bread for a satisfying meal.
Lebanese Chicken Skewers with Zucchini Babaghanoush
- 2 lb chicken thighs boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size chunks
- ¼ cup olive oil
- juice of ½ lemon
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 red onion cut into large chunks
- 5 large zucchini (about 2 ½ lbs)
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup Greek yogurt plain
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- lemon wedges for serving
- pita bread for serving optional
- Marinate the chicken. Combine chicken with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and allspice until well mixed. Let sit for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, make zucchini babaghanoush. Place zucchini on a sheet pan and broil on high for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until deeply browned on all sides. Rotate zucchini throughout to brown evenly. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- When zucchini is cool enough to handle, peel off skin and discard. Place zucchini in a colander and let sit for 10 minutes to drain excess liquid.
- Mash zucchini with garlic and lemon juice in a large bowl. Slowly add olive oil while mixing. Add Greek yogurt, stirring until combined. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Skewer chicken alternating with red onion. Place skewers on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip over the skewers and roast for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked and lightly charred.
- Remove chicken from the oven and place on a plate. Sprinkle fresh dill on top and serve with zucchini babaghanoush, lemon wedges, and pita bread, if desired.
Watch how to make this:
Is it just me or does summertime make you crave skewers? It doesn't matter what's on the skewers, shrimp, beef, or chicken, but I want them all. For some reason, the protein just tastes better when served on a stick. You may be on the fence but I think if you try these Lebanese chicken skewers with zucchini babaghanoush, you'll be convinced. Marinate chicken with warm spices and roast them with red onion until lightly charred. Serve the juicy meat with homemade zucchini babaghanoush and warm pita bread and you have one incredibly flavorful and satisfying meal.
So what makes this dish Lebanese? I was initially inspired by the Lebanese chicken dish, "chicken shawarma" which consists of marinated chicken skewers. The marinade typically includes a combination of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, and a blend of spices such as paprika, cumin, and oregano. Although my recipe isn't exactly traditional, it does bear a close resemblance.
- Chicken thighs: Although this recipe uses chicken thighs, you can use chicken breast instead or another protein such as salmon, shrimp, or beef.
- Tomato paste: A concentrated paste made from tomatoes, this ingredient adds a deep, rich flavor to the chicken.
- Spices: I used a combination of paprika, cumin, coriander, and allspice to season the chicken. If you cannot find allspice, you can omit it.
- Zucchini: Instead of eggplant, we are using zucchini to make the babaghanoush. The vegetable has a subtle, delicate taste, making it a versatile ingredient for many uses.
- Tahini: A paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds, tahini is a common ingredient used to make babaghanoush. It adds a creamy texture while contributing a rich, nutty flavor that cannot be substituted with another ingredient.
- Greek yogurt: Use plain whole-fat Greek yogurt to add a creamy element to the babaghanoush.
How to Make Lebanese Chicken Skewers
Step 1: Marinate Chicken
To make the Lebanese chicken skewers, start by marinating the chicken. In a bowl, combine the chicken thighs with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, tomato paste, paprika, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and allspice.
Mix well to ensure the chicken is evenly coated. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge, or you can marinate it overnight for more flavor.
Step 2: Make Zucchini Babaghanoush
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the zucchini babaghanoush. Place the large zucchini on a sheet pan and broil them on high heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are deeply browned on all sides. Rotate the zucchinis periodically to ensure even browning. The zucchini may look burned but don't worry, that's exactly what we want. Once done, remove them from the heat and allow them to cool slightly.
When the zucchinis are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. You can also cut the zucchini in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon if it's easier.
Place the zucchini flesh in a colander and let them sit for about 10 minutes to drain any excess liquid. This specific vegetable has high water content so we want to make sure to drain as much as we can to avoid having a watery babaghanoush.
In a large bowl, mash the zucchini with minced garlic and lemon juice. Slowly add olive oil while mixing, and then stir in the plain Greek yogurt until well combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Set the zucchini babaghanoush aside.
Step 3: Prepare and Cook Skewers
Next, skewer the marinated chicken chunks, alternating them with chunks of red onion. Place the skewers on a sheet pan and roast them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip the skewers over and roast them for an additional 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and lightly charred.
You can also cook the chicken on the grill or on the stovetop.
Once the chicken skewers are done, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a serving plate with the zucchini babaghanoush. Sprinkle fresh dill on top and serve with warm pita bread on the side, if desired.
These Lebanese chicken skewers were exactly what I wanted: incredibly flavorful chicken threaded with sweet roasted onion served with a creamy dip. The babaghanoush is a fun change but still reminiscent of the classic eggplant version. I would gladly enjoy this meal several times during the summer and perhaps, throughout the year!
Can I grill the chicken skewers instead of roasting them in the oven?
Yes, you can grill the chicken skewers for a delicious smoky flavor. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and grill the skewers for about 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
Can I roast the zucchini instead of broiling them?
Broiling the zucchini is a very important step in preparing the zucchini. Unlike roasting, broiling only chars the outside making it easy to remove the skin. Roasting the vegetable will not deliver the same results.
What other sides can I serve these Lebanese chicken skewers with?
Rice pilaf, tabbouleh salad, or another fresh salad would all go well with this dish.
For more skewer inspiration check out these piri piri chicken skewers!