There are certain types of cheeses that grill up beautifully, and Indian paneer cheese is one of the best. This recipe, by KCET chef Steven Raichlen, is perfecting for those who don't eat a ton of meat, but still want to contribute to cookouts this summer. The ginger and turmeric give it a delicious boost of flavor -- we're betting even avowed carnivores will give it a try.
Indian Vegetable & Cheese Kebabs
4 poblano chilies or green bell peppers
4 red ripe tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium red onions
2 pounds paneer cheese, queso blanco, or dry mozzarella cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric
coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Other Items Needed:
1/2 cup sesame seeds
lemon wedges for serving
wide (at least 3/8 inch wide) metal or bamboo skewers
Cut the peppers into 2 inch square pieces, discarding the core and seeds. Cut each tomato into 4 wedges. Cut the seeds and pulp out of each wedge (save them for stock): the remaining piece of tomato should be about inch thick. Cut it in half width-wise. Cut the onions in half width-wise and cut each half in quarters. Break the quarters into segments. Cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes.
Assemble the kebabs. Skewer a piece of pepper through the flat side. Skewer a piece of tomato on top, followed by a piece of onion. Skewer on a piece of cheese. Repeat in this sequence until all the ingredients are used up.
Make the basting mixture. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the cilantro, garlic, ginger, and turmeric and cook over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining butter and cook until melted, 1 minute. Add salt to taste.
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Brush the kebabs on all sides with the basting mixture. Sprinkle on all sides with the sesame seeds. Arrange the kebabs on the grill grate and grill until nicely browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning as the cheese starts to melt and basting with the cilantro garlic butter. Serve at once with lemon wedges for squeezing.