Quick and easy oven-baked chicken skewers, coated in shawarma-inspired spices and served with a lovely Tabbouleh salad. A great weeknight dinner!
About this easy Summer dinner
This quick and easy weeknight meal was inspired by a take-out meal I enjoyed from one of my favourite local restaurants. I added a delicious tabbouleh salad to the plate, which is a lovely combination of grains, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and feta, all tossed in a simple oil and red wine vinegar dressing. (Tabbouleh is one of my favourite salads, so even if you aren't convinced to make the chicken, do try the tabbouleh!).
This easy dinner is ready in about 30 minutes and is a lean meal that is big on flavour, too!
- Chicken - I've used boneless chicken breast here, but boneless chicken thighs will work just as well.
- Tabbouleh grain - classic tabbouleh is made with bulgur, but any grain you like or have on hand will work just fine. I used quick-cooking farro here, which cooks up like pasta in boiling water and is ready in just 10 minutes! Barley, couscous or even brown rice could be used, as well. Simply cook according to the package directions, rinse in cold water and set aside or refrigerate, if making ahead.
- Mint - a bit of mint is traditional in tabbouleh, but I have to confess that I'm not always a fan of mint in savoury dishes. If I use it, I use a very small amount. If you love mint, definitely add it in. If you're not sure, use just a bit or omit.
- As shown in the video above, when cutting chicken breasts for skewers, I like to trim away the rounded sides and the thin end, leaving an even-thickness rectangle. (*I don't throw the trimmings away. I freeze them to add to soup etc.). Once you have your rectangle, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into cubes. These even-sized pieces will cook more evenly and you will be less likely to over-cook it.
- Don't over-crowd your skewers, as this can cause the chicken to cook un-evenly. Leave a sliver of space between cubes and avoid squeezing them together.
- Be sure not to over-cook the chicken, particularly when using chicken breasts, as they have very little fat and can be dry if over-cooked. Cooking time will vary, depending on how large you cut your cubes, so watch closely. Typically, the chicken will be cooked through in as little as 8-12 minutes.
- You can easily cook up the grain for the tabbouleh salad ahead and refrigerate until ready to quickly make the salad later. You can also mix up the salad ahead and refrigerate the whole thing for a couple of hours before serving.
- If you're not feeling skewered chicken, simply butterfly the chicken breasts, toss in the spiced and roast in larger pieces in the oven until cooked or even cook in a skillet on the stove-top. Slice and serve.
- Of course, if you'd rather, you can BBQ grill the chicken skewers instead. Be sure to soak the wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using.
Shawarma Spiced Chicken Skewers with Tabbouleh
- 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, or 4 boneless chicken thighs
Shawarma Spice Blend:
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup farro, or barley, quinoa, couscous, cooked per package instructions
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
- 1 cup fresh parsley, curly or flat, finely chopped
- 1-2 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, to drizzle (optional)
- Cook the grain for the tabbouleh: I used farro, which cooks up in about 10 minutes in boiling water. I added 1 Tbsp olive oil to the boiling water before adding the farro. If using another grain, simply cook per the package instructions. When cooked, run under cold water to stop the cooking and speed the cooling. Place into bowl to cool further or refrigerate, if making ahead.
- While grain is cooking, mix together the Garlic Yogurt Sauce by combining all the ingredients and stirring well to combine. Set aside or refrigerate if making ahead.
- Preheat oven to 425F. (or preheat BBQ if grilling).
- Prepare the Shawarma Spice Mix by stirring together all the spiced. Set aside.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with spice mix. Toss to coat evenly. Thread chicken onto skewers and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, then place under the broiler for another minute to brown a bit. *Be careful not to over-cook the chicken, especially if using chicken breasts, as the chicken can easily dry out.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tabbouleh by cutting the tomatoes, cucumber and red onion, parsley and mint, if using, adding to the bowl with the cooked grain. Add the feta cheese and toss to combine. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad as needed (you may not need it all). Finish with a drizzle of freshly squeeze lemon juice, if desired. Toss to combine and serve immediately or refrigerate to enjoy later.
- Serve warm skewers over room temperature or refrigerated Tabbouleh. Drizzle chicken with garlic yogurt sauce.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.