Grilled Lemon-Balsamic Lamb Kebabs with Blueberry and Pea Barley

Last year when we moved into our current apartment, we were so ecstatic that our new digs had a porch that not too soon after that, we bought a new grill, stocked up on charcoal and bags of applewood and hickory chips. We had this romanticized vision of us on our new porch with a bunch of our friends, music and laughter providing the soundtrack, cocktails flowing and most importantly, the scent of the grill hanging heavily in the air. Unfortunately, it seemed we blinked and it was already too cold for our party to take place and our new patio, grill, charcoal and various smoking chips went unused. 
Marinated Skewers - Ready for the grill
Sizzling Away
Finally, after much anticipation, it seems like we made it. We're firmly in the throws of summer now and  making up for lost time by grilling everything in sight. Best of all, we were able to make our party a reality last week. The inspiration for this dish was simple, taking a cue from the local Farmer's Markets, I wanted to keep it seasonally fresh and let those natural ingredients shine. Nothing fussy, just clean flavors presented in a fun way. Skewers were an obvious choice to me, so easy to make for a crowd and even easier to toss on the grill (or heat in the oven if you're working with limited space and equipment). Not to mention, meat on a stick is just summery and fun, isn't it? 

Barley, Pea and Blueberry Salad, waiting for the lamb to be done
What I liked most about this dish was how well the vinegar marinade played off of the natural gaminess of the lamb and gave it a welcoming, subtle sweetness. The salad that the kebabs were resting on is a hearty combination of barley, sweet peas, blueberries and a couple salty crumbles of feta - a nice balance of sweet, salty and earthy. The whole dish is then brightened up with fresh mint and cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lemon. I served it at room temp, neatly tucked under the kebabs to sop up any stray juices and bits of flavor left from the lamb. 

Party Time!
Over the past year, the Tri-Lamb Association has been providing me with recipes and some beautiful cuts of lamb, to create healthy lamb-centric dinner parties. And now, they've asked me to take a turn and create a simple and figure friendly recipe that is fit for a crowd. I was provided a leg of lamb to start with and the rest came together from there. I was so pleased with the results that I wanted to share my recipe here, too. If we do in fact eat with our eyes, this dish is quite the looker. Symbolizing all that's great about fresh, fuss-free cooking in the summer and spotlighting what already naturally tastes great. Try this for your next party. It's a snap to throw together and made for a memorable way for us to break in our new grill with friends. 

Grilled Lemon-Balsamic Lamb Kebabs with Blueberry and Pea Barley
Serves 10-12 people

Special Equipment:
- Wooden Skewers, soaked in water for a minimum of an hour
- Grill (or oven works well too)
- Prep bowls and Serving plates

- 1 4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
- 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- The zest of one lemon, juice reserved
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 cups barley
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 1/2 cups cooked fresh or frozen peas
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
- 1/8 cup chopped, fresh mint
- 3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Trim lamb of visible fat and cut into even sized cubes and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar with the lemon zest. Stir to combine and pour over the lamb, coating it evenly. Cover the lamb tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate, allowing the lamb to marinate for a minimum of 1 hour (for best results, marinate over night). Skewer the cubes, layering the lamb and onions.

Preheat the grill. While waiting for the grill to heat, Pour the barley into a medium sized pot and add 6 cups of water. Salt the water generously and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook barley for about 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender. Once barley is cooked, allow it to cool a bit and then add blueberries, peas and herbs. Gently fold in feta cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before hitting the grill, season the lamb with salt and pepper. Grill the lamb for a total of 7-10 minutes, turning once, halfway through. Allow lamb to rest for about 10-15 minutes before piling it on top of the barley salad and serving. Just before serving, squeeze lemon juice over the lamb and salad. Serve warm or at room temp. 


Michelle Collins said...

I WILL make that barley this summer. Looks and sounds incredible!

Mom said...

This looks absolutely delicious!! Way to go SBK....again you aced it!!

Anonymous said...

I made this last week, great flavor combination and easy to present well. It's a keeper.

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