Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto and Kale Tabbouleh

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto and Kale Tabbouleh // FoodNouveau.com

I feel like the summer has only just started in Quebec City: the sun has finally come out for several days in a row, and we’re having the kind of hot and humid weather that gives you the urge to take your cooking outside. I don’t barbecue a lot, so when I do, I usually go for chicken because I find it hard to miss. Take, for example, these simple skewers: made with moist and tender marinated chicken thighs, it would actually be a challenge to fail at grilling them right. In other words, they are perfect for my skills. The secret to making them extra special is through a tasty condiment, such as this recipe’s zesty cilantro pesto. It’s the kind of condiment I see myself using in many different ways—from dipping sauce to topping for grilled fish, to even dressing for an Asian-style slaw.

The kale tabbouleh is a play on the traditional dish, which is usually a mix of parsley, mint, tomatoes, and bulgur seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice. I had a bunch of kale in the fridge, so I thought it would make a great, vitamin- and protein-boosting substitute for part of the parsley. Fresh cherry tomatoes and radishes add color and texture, and za’atar inserts a splash of flavor that makes the salad surprisingly addictive. Using couscous instead of bulgur means you can whip up this salad in minutes, as the couscous passively cooks and cools while you chop the veggies. After all, in the summer, I’m all for saving your time to soak in the sun, a glass of wine in hand. Who’s with me?

Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto and Kale Tabbouleh

25 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

40 minTotal Time

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For the cilantro pesto
3 cups [750 ml] fresh cilantro
¼ cup [60 ml] pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp [30 ml] freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ lime)
¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the kale tabbouleh
½ cup [125 ml] couscous
1 cup [250 ml] vegetable broth or water
4 leaves kale, stems removed, leaves finely chopped (about 3 cups [750 ml], loosely packed)
1 cup [250 ml] flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (loosely packed)
¼ cup [60 ml] fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (loosely packed)
¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] lemon juice
1 tsp [5 ml] za’atar (see note)
½ tsp [2.5 ml] sea salt
1 cup [250 ml] cherry tomatoes, halved
4 to 6 radishes, thinly sliced

For the chicken skewers
¼ cup [60 ml] olive oil
1 tbsp [15 ml] honey
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into wide strips


For the cilantro pesto: Place all the ingredients in a blender or a food processor. Process until you reach a creamy and slightly grainy texture, adding more olive oil if needed. Transfer to an airtight glass container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

For the kale tabbouleh: Place the couscous in a bowl or a large measuring cup. Bring the vegetable broth or water to a boil, then pour over the couscous. Give it a stir, cover with plastic wrap and let rest and cool while you prepare the rest of the salad (or about 5 to 10 minutes).

In a large bowl, mix the chopped kale, parsley, and mint. In a small bowl, whisk together the olice oil, lemon juice, za’atar, and sea salt. Drizzle over the salad and mix well to coat the greens.

Fluff the cooked couscous with a fork, then add it to the salad (the couscous should only be warm or completely cooled to room temperature before adding it to the salad). Mix the salad to incorporate the couscous. Add the cherry tomatoes and radish slices, mix just to combine and transfer to a serving bowl.

For the chicken skewers: Whisk the olive oil, honey, and garlic together in a small bowl. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken thigh strips. Seal and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill, setting the burners on medium. Oil the grate. Drain the chicken from the marinade (discarding the marinade), then thread the strips on metal skewers. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the skewers about 4 minutes per side, or until the chicken is well marked and cooked through.

Serve immediately, drizzled liberally with cilantro pesto and sided by a generous scoop of kale tabbouleh.

Note: Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern mix of spices that include thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt.

Recipe Credit: Chicken skewers and cilantro pesto based on recipes by RicardoCuisine.com.

Kale tabbouleh by Marie Asselin.


This post was created in partnership with RicardoCuisine.com. For more chicken inspiration, head on to their site where you’ll find over 230 easy and delicious chicken recipes. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Food Nouveau running!

More summery chicken inspiration from my kitchen:

Chicken Thigh Casserole with New Potatoes and Tomatoes // FoodNouveau.com  Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Fillets with Asparagus Pesto Sauce // FoodNouveau.com  Chicken Soba Salad with Ginger-Peanut Dressing // FoodNouveau.com  Curried Chicken and Asparagus Salad // FoodNouveau.com

  1. Chicken Thigh Casserole with New Potatoes and Tomatoes
  2. Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Fillets with Asparagus Pesto Sauce
  3. Chicken Soba Salad with Ginger-Peanut Dressing
  4. Curried Chicken and Asparagus Salad
What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!

One Response to Grilled Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Pesto and Kale Tabbouleh

  1. This looks like the ultimate healthy, relatively quick dinner that is still absolutely delicious! Chicken skewers are so good, especially grilled, and that tabouleh looks amazing – love the kale substitution and the za-atar for extra middle-eastern flavour :)

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