Food & Drink

Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Grilled Zucchini + Chicken Kebabs

by Grace Bonney

9781452143095_styled cover_Irene Kim Shepherd for Chronicle Books
All week long to celebrate her brand new cookbook, Small Victories, Julia will be joining us for quick, delicious and healthy back-to-school recipes that you can easily make and pack for your loved ones, big and small. Click here to check out yesterday’s menu and don’t forget to enter the big giveaway here!

This menu features one of the most practical small victory tips from Small Victories. When making kebabs, use two skewers instead of one to keep whatever you’re grilling easy to maneuver. I suggest this for Greek-ish Grilled Shrimp in Small Victories, but the tip works equally well here for cubes of chicken and zucchini. These kebabs also feature a technique I really like to employ when grilling: make an assertive marinade and reserve half of it to use as a finishing sauce after you grill whatever it is that you’re preparing. This way you get double duty out of one thing, my favorite kind of two-for-one, time-saving, flavor-enhancing small victory. Also note that these kebabs can be made on an indoor grill pan or under the hot heat of your broiler. —Julia


Grilled Zucchini + Chicken Kebabs with Lemon + Oregano
Simplest Tomato + Feta Salad

Grilled Zucchini + Chicken Kebabs with Lemon + Oregano
Serves 4

2 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup/60 ml fresh lemon juice
¼ cup/60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds/680 g), cut into bite-sized pieces
3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound/453 g), ends trimmed, cut into the same size pieces as the chicken

Soak 24 wooden skewers in warm water for about 1 hour (this keeps them from burning on the grill…as you can see from the photo, I neglected to do this). Drain the skewers and set aside.

Place the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and oregano in a small bowl and whisk everything together. Transfer half of the mixture to a large bowl and add the chicken and zucchini to the large bowl. Use your hands to combine everything.

Prepare the grill for medium-high heat (or heat a large grill pan set over a couple of burners) and make sure your grates are super-clean.

Thread the chicken and zucchini, alternating them, onto the skewers, using two skewers per kebab, so that you end up with a dozen sturdy kebabs. I find that each kebab will have about 3 pieces each chicken and zucchini.

Grill the kebabs, turning them now and then, until the chicken and zucchini are both really nicely browned and charred at the edges and the chicken is firm to the touch, about 12 minutes all together. Transfer the kebabs to a platter. Give the remaining olive oil mixture a stir and drizzle it over the kebabs. Serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.

Simplest Tomato + Feta Salad

This one doesn’t require a recipe, just a suggestion. Cut the best tomatoes you can find into thick wedges or halve cherry tomatoes (or do a mix). Season the cut sides of the tomatoes aggressively with salt. Don’t be shy. Crumble over some feta cheese and drizzle everything generously with olive oil and sprinkle over a few drops of red wine vinegar. Lastly, rub some dried oregano between your fingertips and sprinkle it over the salad. Serve immediately or place in a to-go container and enjoy up to a few hours later. This is not something I would recommend making in advance and refrigerating because refrigerated tomatoes = mushy tomatoes = sad.

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  • small victories are the best victories! I’ve got tomatoes and feta in the fridge and red wine vinegar and oregano in my cupboard…guess what I’m having for lunch today?

  • Yay for small, simple yet TASTY meals. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. I’m a new tomato fan, so what a lovely way to enjoy some fresh tomatoes. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love, love, love this and can’t wait to try it out! The tomatoes are really similar to something my mom would throw together on warm summer nights. It already brings back memories!

  • This one is my favorite, I’m sure (even though I haven’t seen the others yet :). Tomatoes – check, zucchini – check, and chicken – hubby is procuring. Yummmm….

  • This looks like a delicious lunch box addition. Something that I’d be looking forward to unpacking and devouring all morning.

  • Healthy? Definitely. Easy? I beg to differ on that one. Seriously, who has time to prep all of this and grill it for lunch? Dinner, maybe, but lunch? This working mom was definitely disappointed to find that this is not a recipe to add to her stash of recipes for easy, healthy lunches (something I am always on the hunt for). I am usually not one to nitpick about headlines, but I definitely found this one to be a bit misleading. It certainly looks delicious and I might try it for dinner one of these nights.

  • jill, i think the point is to make the kebabs the night before or earlier in the week (like on a Sunday) and bring to work.

  • Yum! I’ve recently become gluten-free and dairy-free because of health concerns so I’m always happy to find recipes that will work for me and be delicious too! I’m so happy to see your success, particularly as a Barnard sister! I work from home so my lunch box meals are usually left overs from the night before that I can enjoy again for lunch. When I packed meals for my son, I always made sure to send things that were healthy but not “in your face healthy,” as you say. Thanks for sharing your talent!

    • I am definitely going to try this over the weekend. Dinner one night and lunch the next day!

  • Lunch just got scrumptious! This small (and tasty) victory will be something to look forward to!