For a fun twist on the usual burgers and barbecued chicken, make your backyard grill center stage for a build-your-own-kebab party. With skewered mains, sides, and even desserts, there’s a lot of leeway for your guests to get creative when constructing their kebabs.
Bonus: You can get most of the food prep out of the way well beforehand.
• Set up a kebab-building assembly line not too far from the grill. Skip the fabric tablecloths and leave any washable table surfaces bare (or cover with butcher paper), as things just might get messy. Have lots of cocktail napkins or wet naps on hand, as well.
• Have a supply of eight-inch wooden skewers on hand. For smaller, non-grilled skewers, decorative toothpicks work, too.
Tip: To get more use out of your stock of skewers, use them at other gatherings for dipping food into sauces, or use them when serving bite-sized appetizers. Just be sure to read up on how to build the perfect kebab before you start assembling.
• Marinate cubes of meat, fish, and vegetables in advance and keep them in the fridge until right before everyone’s ready to start assembling their skewers.
• So people have something to munch on while the grill’s getting hot, pre-assemble easy hors d’oeuvres skewers — for example, mini mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves — and arrange on a platter.
• Amass a collection of decorative dipping bowls (Asian import stores like Pearl River are a perfect source for these). Fill these bowls with dipping sauces for the skewers and refrigerate until party time.
• If you’ve invited any vegetarian guests, make sure they can grill up something in addition to vegetables. The perfect protein-packed solution? Flavorful Thai Citrus Tofu Kebabs.
• Seafood and meat options abound. Some great ideas include Cilantro-Lime Shrimp & Plum Kebabs, Monkfish and Pancetta Kebabs with Sage, Chicken Skewers with Cucumber & Shallot Dip, and Juicy Beef Skewers with Horseradish Dip.
• For dessert, make Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce using succulent peaches, plums, and pineapple.
Tip: Brownies and cubes of angel food cake or pound cake are also great when grilled.