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When the whole family helps prepare a meal, cooking dinner feels less like a job and more like a party. Skewers are especially fun to cook because they allow kids to create and personalize their own meal rather than be handed food that someone else chose for them.
The more meat, seafood and vegetable options you provide, the better. It gives both kids (and adults) a chance to be creative and adventurous. Don’t exclude proteins or veggies that you think your family won’t eat – you might be surprised by the colorful and healthy skewers they put together.
This recipe plans everything out for you, combining a wide variety of proteins and vegetables in a flavorful basil marinade. The avocado sauce served on the side is optional, but most kids love to dip their food into something. You can also consider serving homemade Ranch Dressing, ketchup, or mayo on the side.
Divvy up cooking tasks the best you can. Washing the produce, pouring the marinade over the vegetables and mixing it in with their hands are good tasks for little ones. Older kids can cut meat and veggies and make the dipping sauce. Skewering is the fun part and kids can quickly enjoy the fruits of their labor; cooking the skewers takes less than 15 minutes.
Serves: 4, with possible leftovers
Time in the Kitchen: 30 minutes to 1 hour of prep, depending on how many people are helping, plus 12 to 15 minutes to cook the skewers
Soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes before using.
Cut the meat either into thin strips 1/4 inch thick and 4 inches long (6 mm and 10 cm) or into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Place in a large bowl.
Cut the fish into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large bowl (can be combined in a bowl with the shrimp).
Chop the broccoli into florets and cut the carrots into pieces that are about 1/2 inch thick (13 mm) .Steam or microwave the broccoli and carrots until just tender.
Chop the bell peppers, onion and zucchini into pieces that are roughly the same size and thickness.
Cut the mushrooms in half lengthwise.
Put all the vegetables (including tomatoes) in a large bowl or sheet pan.
In a food processor combine the basil leaves with the cloves of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until basil leaves and garlic are very finely chopped.
Pour 1/3 of the marinade over the meat, 1/3 over the seafood and 1/3 over the vegetables. Use your hands to mix and evenly coat everything in the marinade. Marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature (or overnight in the refrigerator.)
For the most even cooking results, the meat, seafood and veggies should be on their own skewers. However, it’s more fun to combine things. Putting meat and veggies together on some skewers and seafood and veggies together on the other skewers works well.
If the meat is cut into strips, thread it onto the skewers. Chunks of meat and the fish, shrimp and veggies can just be poked through the middle with the skewer. When the skewers are complete, season generously with salt and pepper.
If you get tired of skewering veggies, just skewer some and throw the rest into a large rimmed baking pan. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes under the broiler, stirring several times.
Put the skewers on a grill with medium-high heat or on the top rack of the oven under a broiler on high. Turn twice while cooking. The skewers will cook faster on a grill than under a broiler.
General cooking guidelines:
Meat: 10 to 12 minutes
Fish: 8 to 10 minutes
Shrimp: 6 to 8 minutes
Vegetables: 8 to 12 minutes
Finely chop the basil in the food processor. Scoop the avocado into the food processor and add the lemon juice, coconut milk and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste.