Rosemary Lemon Chicken Skewers

My family and I recently dined at a Mediterranean restaurant in West Hollywood called Fig and Olive. The restaurant is beautifully designed with lots of light and open spaces. It’s modern, but warm, with a distinctly Italian feel. Fresh rosemary grows everywhere within the restaurant. Olive oil bottles and barrels line the walls.

Fig and Olive is pricey, but we were celebrating a special occasion so we decided to splurge. I’ve been hearing about it for weeks, so I was excited to give it a try. Every dish on the menu sounded amazing. I had the Mediterranean Branzino glazed with fig and 18 yr. old balsamic vinegar, snow peas, fig, and Koroneiki Olive Oil. My friends shared the Fig and Olive Mediterranean Tasting, which included a dish I’ve never seen before– grilled olive oil steak on fresh rosemary skewers. What a fabulous idea! I left the restaurant feeling inspired.

From the painting “Ophelia and Laertes” by William Gorman Wills, ca 1880. Ophelia holds a sprig of rosemary in her hand.

Looking into the history of rosemary, I found out some fascinating things. The herb rosemary has been used in Mediterranean cooking for centuries. It is a member of the mint family, an evergreen shrub that thrives in moist environments (hence its Latin name Rosmarinus, or “dew of the sea”). It is one of the most prized culinary herbs, used often in Italian cooking.

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Ophelia waxes poetic about rosemary as she descends into madness…

There’s Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.

Shakespeare might have known something that modern science is just beginning to discover. Recent studies suggest that rosemary may sharpen memory and brain function. Apparently, the ancient Greeks knew it, too– they wore rosemary in their hair to fortify their memory. According to the “Oxford Companion to Food” by Alan Davidson, this association between rosemary and memory has persisted throughout history: “In medieval times, and indeed throughout history, people have tended to attach more importance to the medicinal than to the culinary properties of rosemary… Sir Thomas More… wrote: ‘I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onelie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and therefore to friendship.”

Rosemary also happens to be an excellent herb to use for grilling. In addition to its delicious flavor, it has been shown to reduce carcinogens and break up cancer-causing compounds that can form when meat is cooked on a smoky grill.

This week, I decided to create my own version of Fig and Olive’s rosemary skewers. I made it with lemony marinated chicken chunks… lemon and rosemary are a fabulous flavor combination. I also added a little whole grain Dijon to the marinade for kick, along with garlic and a touch of honey. I grilled the skewers directly on the rosemary stem, which infused the meat with even more flavor and aroma. The rosemary skewers looked a little sad after grilling, so I re-skewered them on fresh rosemary for a more beautiful presentation before serving.

The meat turned out wonderful– tender, juicy, and bursting with herby lemon flavor. I added a Dijon Mayonnaise dipping sauce to add another level of deliciousness (you could also serve it with tahini sauce if you prefer). The result was truly spectacular. I recommend using a high quality organic mayonnaise for the sauce, it will really improve the flavor.

With the summer weather and grilling season upon us, these skewers are a fun and easy dish that will wow your guests. They’re heart-healthy, low carb, and gluten free (with a certified GF mustard/mayonnaise). To stretch these and make a more economical dish, you could alternate chicken chunks on the skewer with your favorite grilling vegetables– zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms would all work well. A fabulous option to grill up for any occasion!

Note: Don’t marinate the meat for longer than the suggested 2 hours. The acid in the lemon juice will break down the meat. 2 hours is plenty of time to infuse the chicken with fresh, lemony flavor. Enjoy!

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Rosemary Lemon Chicken Skewers with Dijon Mayo

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 lb. total)
  • 8 fresh rosemary stems (10-12 inches long each)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
Prep Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 - 15 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 4 skewers
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Cut chicken into 1-1 ½ inch chunks. Thighs will cook up juicier, breasts have less fat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. If using kosher chicken meat, go light on the salt, as the meat will already have some saltiness.
  • Place chicken pieces into a shallow bowl.
  • In a small bowl, pour lemon juice, zest, olive oil, 1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard, honey, garlic and chopped rosemary leaves; mix well.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  • Rinse and dry the eight rosemary stems, then pull most of the leaves from the stem. Reserve 1-2 inches of leaves at the tip of each stem. These are your skewers.
  • Remove marinated chicken from the refrigerator. Skewer the chicken chunks onto four of the rosemary skewers. Reserve the other four skewers.
  • Generously grease your grill before preheating to prevent the chicken from sticking. Grill the skewers over a medium flame for 8-15 minutes (cook time will depend on the size of your chicken chunks and the heat on your grill). Cover the chicken as it cooks so that smoky rosemary flavor permeates the meat.
  • Turn the skewers periodically, until the chicken chunks are cooked through and the meat is evenly grilled. Cut a larger chunk open to check for doneness.
  • When chicken is cooked, un-skewer the chicken chunks from the charred rosemary skewers. Re-skewer them on the fresh rosemary skewers.
  • To make the Dijon Mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise and the remaining ½ tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard in a small bowl; stir well.
  • Serve as a dipping sauce with the grilled chicken skewers.

Comments (37)Post a Comment

  1. Love that trick of reskewering the rosemary, I was trying to see how they could come out looking like that!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Mm, that seriously sounds delicious! Although, I think my carb-obsessed self would put the chicken over some yummy pasta instead of reskewering.

    1. Tiffany and Linz, hope you enjoy the skewers! Ilana, yes, re-skewering is a must, the charred rosemary just looks too sad (and the fresh rosemary is so lovely!). And Larry– you’re very welcome. ;)

    1. Betty, I was thinking the same thing! I’ve really been wanting to start an herb garden, and rosemary is so easy to grow in my neck of the woods. I also want to plant some fresh basil to make pesto. Mmm…

  3. Excellent idea to use the rosemary as skewers. I have a huge rosemary bush and am always looking for ways to use it. I wonder if this would work with some sort of fish? Shabbat Shalom.

    1. Hey Sheldon! It would certainly work with fish, but make sure it’s a dense-fleshed, solid fish that won’t fall apart on the skewer (salmon or halibut might work well). Also, I wouldn’t marinate the fish for longer than 15 minutes, or you could end up cooking it ceviche-style with the acid from the lemon.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made these skewers for Shabbat and they were succulent and a wonderful blend of savory and slightly sweet. The sauce was a perfect accompaniment. I may also try tahini sauce for a Mediterranean-themed dinner but keep the chicken marinade the same. Delicious recipe!

    1. My tahini sauce is comprised of tahini paste, plenty of pressed garlic, lemon juice, water to thin it, and salt. Sometimes I add parsley.

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This recipe sounds delicious, easy and healthy. I am not a big mayo fan though….do you think greek yougurt could be substitutued for the mayo???

    1. Hey Bridget! I’m assuming you don’t keep kosher, which means you don’t have a problem mixing dairy with meat. I wasn’t sure about Greek yogurt as a sub for the mayo, so I actually went and mixed a little with the whole grain Dijon in the kitchen to see how it tastes. It’s good, but I would cut down the Dijon to 1 tsp to start, and add more if you want more mustard flavor/kick. Add salt to taste. The skewers would also go well with a basic tzaziki or tahini sauce. Hope you get a chance to try the recipe!

  6. Thank you! I Can’t wait to try it that way! I will let you know how it turns out. I love your blog and recipes!

    1. Hi there Charissa, happy to be your blogging friend! I love that phrase at the top of your blog– “To me, balanced living is chocolate on whole wheat toast.” I think we’re kindred spirits! :)

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    makes me feel hungry..awesome..
    first time here..love your space..
    excellent recipe collection with gorgeous presentation..
    Am your happy subscriber now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  8. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I’ve been looking for something to do with all this rosemary that I have on hand. This sounds like the perfect way to use it. I really love Mediterranean food and that restaurant sounds amazing–I like that you brought those flavors into the dish.

  9. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I will bbq these along with strip steaks. I think they will make a wonderful appetizer, what a way to being a BBQ party on Sunday. Thanks…

  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi Tori, loved your chicken it must smell fantastic.And they look great too. I’m also a Shiksa :-) I’m Brazilian and I married a Israeli I met in Australia…I love the middle eastern food, the spices and flavors are fantastic.

  11. sounds excellent! any side dishes (grains) on your blog that you would suggest with this dish? your site looks like a lot of fun to peruse

  12. Thanks! Like your site. Made the Rosemary Lemon Chicken last night. It is a keeper! Glad to have something to use rosemary from our huge bushes.

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