Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Summer weather and flavors of Tuscany

Published: 8:55 am CDT, August 16, 2012

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we joke that summer doesn’t start until July 5. That was the case this year, then we had a few weeks of “autumn weather” thrown in between now and then to keep things interesting. We’re now back in the thick of summer and I can’t get enough time outside in the sun and warmth. Of course, this means more biking, running, and stand-up paddleboarding. It also means that any way to stay outside for routine tasks such as cooking also top my list of things to do. Luckily, grilling is a healthy way to prepare food with minimal oils – and a good excuse to stand around outside while you “work” in the “kitchen.”

The American Heart Association Tuscan-Style Grilled Chicken Kebabs are filled with the flavors of Tuscany – throw in a sunny day and it’s almost like you’re there. This quick and easy-to-prepare summer meal highlights fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and perfectly marinated chicken in a way that will make your and your guests ready to make this again and again.

Let’s get started.

Once you’ve collected all your ingredients and skewers, you’re ready to go. First, prepare the simple and incredibly flavorful marinade. Just looking at the ingredients makes me think of Tuscany.

Then, cut the chicken into cubes and immerse in the marinade. The longer you have to marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will be. I marinated the chicken for about an hour, but anywhere between 30 minutes and 8 hours will work.

The recipe as-is calls for brown rice. Since I did not have any brown rice in the pantry, I decided to substitute farro. Farro is an ancient grain that often is found in Italian dishes. It’s high in fiber and protein. With a nutty flavor and chewy texture, it’s a great base for meals such as this.

Once your grain is cooked, it’s time to stir in sun-dried tomatoes. This small addition adds great color and flavor to the dish.

Now, onto the kebabs.

Prepare the vegetables by cutting into pieces that will fit on the skewers and grill fairly easily. Virtually any summer vegetable could be used on these skewers – be creative and pick what vegetables you like most.

Now is the time for making your food look pretty. On each skewer, thread each of the vegetables and a piece of chicken until you fill the entire skewer. Be sure to leave room at each end so that you have someplace to pick up the skewer when it’s time to rotate it on the grill!

Rotate the kebabs approximately every 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking. When the chicken no longer is pink in the middle (after 8-12 minutes), your dinner is ready.

The dish assembles quickly and easily for a very pretty presentation.

Here’s to virtual Tuscan vacations and heart health – buon apetito!

 

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