Middle Eastern-themed welcome dinner


Last night, my teenage stepdaughters arrived from the Windy City for a visit.  I’m so happy to have them here because they are a joy to have around.  To welcome them home, I cooked a Middle Eastern-themed dinner.  On the menu: Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Zucchini and Onions; Tabbouli; Hummus; Rice and Pita Bread.  Most of the recipes are from Cook’s Illustrated with the exception of the rice and the bakery-bought pita bread.  The meal was enjoyed by all.  Recipes after the jump.


Middle Eastern Marinade for Chicken Kebabs

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes scant 3/4 cup, for 1 1/2 pounds chicken.


½ cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)

¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves or parsley leaves, alone or in combination

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ground black pepper to taste


  1. Whisk all ingredients in small bowl.

Grilled Chicken Kebabs

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 4-8 Kebabs (4 Servings).

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1- to 1 ½ inch chunks

2 cups vegetables (zucchini, onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, eggplant) cut into 1 inch chunks

Salt and pepper


  1. Mix marinade and chicken in gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag; seal bag and refrigerate, turning once or twice, until chicken has marinated fully, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat stove-top grill pan on medium–high for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly coat veggies by tossing in bowl with oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade.  Thread chicken and veggies onto shish kebab skewers.  Grill, turning kebab a quarter turn every 2 minutes until lightly browned and meat is fully cooked, about 8 minutes total.


Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 4-6 servings (about 1 quart)

1/2             cup bulgur , fine or medium grain, rinsed under running water and drained

1/3             cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

1/3             cup olive oil

Table salt

1/8             teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2             cups minced fresh parsley leaves

2             medium tomatoes , halved, seeded, and cut into very small dice

4             medium scallions , green and white parts, minced

2             tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves  (or 1 rounded teaspoon dried mint)

1. Mix bulgur wheat with 1/4 cup of the lemon juice in medium bowl; set aside until grains are tender and fluffy, 20 to 40 minutes,depending on age and type of bulgur.

2. Mix remaining lemon juice, olive oil, salt to taste and red pepper, if desired. Mix bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, scallions, and mint; add dressing and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend, 1 to 2 hours. Serve.


Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

The hummus can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 days. If you do not plan on serving it immediately, refrigerate the hummus and garnishes separately. When ready to serve, stir in approximately 1 tablespoon of warm water if the texture is too thick.

Makes about 2 cups

3             tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons

1/4             cup water

6             tablespoons sesame tahini , stirred well

2             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling

1             (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed

2             garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press

1/2             teaspoon table salt

1/4             teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne

1             tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds.

Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.

With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube.

Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.

With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.


5 comments on “Middle Eastern-themed welcome dinner

  1. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for stopping by with your Hummus recipe, I have everything I need right this minute to make it! Thanks so much. I just need to get some bread!

  2. BethieofVA says:

    I followed you from Cheryl’s site for the hummus recipe. I think I will have to give it a try this weekend.

    • tortatebukura says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Bethie. I really hope you like the recipe. Please let me know how it turned out for you.

  3. Your Husband says:

    My dearest wife!

    Thank you again for the awesome hummus you made for my farewell party at work. Of course it was a hit. Now that I am in the Balkans I’ll be missing you and your excellent food even more.


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