This chicken & red pepper walnut puree is great for BBQs!
For red pepper and walnut puree:
- 3 large red bell peppers
- 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (to be divided)
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup toasted, chopped California walnuts
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
For the kabobs and gremolata:
- 6 – 8, depending on size, skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup toasted, chopped California walnuts
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot (about half a small shallot)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (the zest of half a lemon)
- Kosher salt
For the Red Peppers:
*Note: Grilling peppers over an outdoor flame (either gas or charcoal) takes patience, though the aroma and the results are wonderful. However, if you are short on time, you may substitute 1 1/2 cups drained, roasted and peeled red peppers from a jar in preparing the puree.
- Heat an outdoor grill to high.
- To prepare the red peppers, rub each pepper with about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Place the peppers over heat and grill 15 – 25 minutes total (depending on the intensity of your fire), turning them with tongs about every 4 minutes. You want the skins to be blistered and black. Once all sides are charred place the peppers in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 10 - 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle.
- Peel away the charred skin and discard. Remove the stems, seeds and inside membranes from the peppers and discard.
- Place the peppers in a blender or food processor and add the walnuts, the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Blend on high for 1 – 2 minutes, until the mixture has a very smooth consistency. If the puree seems a little thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature. (If you are making the puree ahead of time, refrigerate it, then let it come to room temperature before serving.)
- Combine the chicken and yogurt in a glass or stainless steel bowl and toss to coat; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no longer than 3 hours.
Tip: Marinating chicken or meat in yogurt helps tenderize it, and it adds plenty of moisture and flavor as well. The red pepper walnut puree can be made a head of time and refrigerated for up to three days.
To make the Gremolata:
- Finely mince the walnuts and combine in a small bowl with the parsley, shallot and lemon zest. Set the gremolata aside.
For the Chicken Kabobs:
- Reheat an outdoor grill to medium high. (If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before grilling. Remember, for extra strength, and ease in turning the kabobs on the grill, it can be helpful to double-skewer the chicken—using two bamboo skewers about 1/4-inch apart, rather than one, for each kabob.)
- Divide the marinated chicken evenly among 6 skewers. Season the chicken with 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Place chicken on grill and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Turn and cook 3 – 4 minutes more. Continue cooking, flipping the skewers every 3 minutes or so, until the chicken is fully cooked—it will be lightly browned and feel firm to the touch. Total cooking time will be 9 – 12 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill. The internal temperature of the chicken should be about 165ºF. If you are in doubt, cut into a piece to be sure.
- Transfer the kabobs to a serving platter, drizzle with some of the roasted red pepper walnut puree and sprinkle with the walnut gremolata. Serve, passing the remaining puree at the table.