I'm trying hard to go low-ish carb, swapping cauliflower rice for, well, regular rice, and spiralized zucchini for pasta. These grilled vegetable skewers of halloumi, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes and onions over zoodles is a perfect example of my dinner. It's not Whole30, but I think of it as Whole30-Lite. Or maybe Whole29. And this dish was uber-easy, one of my new meal requirements. It looks a lot more complicated than it is.
Your first question might be - what the heck is halloumi. It's a Greek cheese that is semi-hard, unripened and brined. Halloumi, typically made with goat and sheep milk, is perfect for grilling and frying because of it's very high melting temperature. Sometimes, cow milk is added to the mix. It's not very tangy, but has a hardy milky cheese flavor. I find it packaged in slabs that are easily sliced with a sharp knife. For the skewers, I sliced a slab into cubes and threaded them onto the same skewer with zucchini and tomatoes.
Cook Like a Chef:
#1. Group similar cooking-time vegetables on the same skewers. I threaded baby bell peppers, potatoes, and onion together, and as I mention above, put the tomatoes, zucchini and halloumi together. The potatoes need to be pre-cooked for 2 minutes in the microwave first, as they take a little longer than anything else.
#2. Use baby bell peppers to save time. Unlike larger bell peppers, they're small enough to be threaded whole onto the skewers (as you can see in the photos).
#3. A grill pan or mat makes clean up MUCH easier, and help prevent shooting flames from the marinade. Here are my favorites:
I like the trays on the left because they're non-stick, and have great handles that makes it easy to place on the grill and remove them. Click on the photo to check them out on Amazon.
I love the mats on the right because they're non-stick, dishwasher-safe, and thin enough to give you lovely grill marks. You can even use them in the oven up to 500˚F. Mine have lasted for years now, without any sign of wear, and have a life-time warranty. Click on the photo to check them out on Amazon.
#4. Zucchini is loaded with water, and any sauté of them for longer than a few quick minutes will result in a large puddle of zucchini juice in the pan, and very limp zoodles. If you purchase zoodles already spiralized from zucchini at your market, be sure to use them within the next day or two. Otherwise, they will become a little soggy, and as soon as they hit a hot pan, they'll release all that lovely moisture.
#5. Make the marinade / dressing ahead of time to save yourself a few extra minutes. And feel free to use whatever vegetable you prefer. Asparagus, for example, can easily be added to the mix.
Grilled Vegetable Skewers Over Zoodles
Marinade / Dressing
- 6 small red potatoes halved or quartered (depending on their size)
- 10 baby bell peppers assorted colors
- 1 medium red onion sliced into wedges large enough to skewer
- 2 medium zucchini sliced into 8 large chunks each
- 12 1- inch chunks of halloumi cheese large enough to skewer
- 15 cherry tomatoes
Marinade / Dressing:
- Whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade / dressing in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. This can be made up to several days in advance and refrigerated.
- Pre-cook the potato halves for 2 minutes in the microwave oven. Toss all of the vegetables, including the potatoes, and cheese in the marinade, and soak for 15 minutes while you fire up the grill. Slide the potatoes, onions, and peppers together on a few skewers. Slide the zucchini, tomatoes, halloumi together on your remaining skewers. You should end up with 8 skewers, depending on how long your skewers are.
- Oil the grill if you're not using a grill pan. Place the skewers with the potatoes on the grill first, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini skewers, and grill for 2 minutes. Turn the skewers over and cook for an additional 2 - 4 minutes until charred, and softened. If grilling with a grill pan or sheet, I grill over the direct flame on medium. If not, I use indirect heat to make sure they don't catch on fire from the marinade.
- Remove from the heat while you quickly make the zoodles.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Stir it around in the pan, and add the spiralized zucchini, lemon juice, and salt. Toss for 2 - 3 minutes, only until they begin to relax in the pan, and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, top with the skewers, and finish with a flurry of basil.
Make Vegan and Whole30:
Nix the cheese on the zucchini and the halloumi on the skewers.
For the Wimpy Vegetarian Table:
Either cubes of chicken, salmon, or large peeled and deveined shrimp work great with this dish!