I officially have a new favorite sauce for summer: chermoula! Typically used for grilling meat and fish in Moroccan cuisine, this sauce is loaded with fresh cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, lemon juice and spices. There are very few sauces that pack the tart and tangy flavor punch that chermoula does, and now that I have experienced it I am totally hooked.
I had never even heard of chermoula until I found a recipe for Chermoula Fish Kebabs a few weeks ago. It was one of those instances where an image jumps out at you from Pinterest and makes you instantly hungry. After reading the recipe through, I knew that a mix of summer squash, peppers, and halloumi cheese would make a tasty vegetarian stand-in for the swordfish on the skewer.
Halloumi is made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk. Largely found in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, it holds together well (almost like a saltier, more flavorful version of mozzarella) and is perfect for grilling due to its high melting point. When fried or grilled, the outside gets a crispy crust and the inside stays creamy. You can usually find halloumi in natural foods stores or co-ops, but look for it in a Greek or Middle Eastern market if there's one near you. Its popularity for grilling has increased over the past couple years, so you may also have luck in bigger mainstream grocery stores.
Alongside these chermoula veggie kebabs, we threaded Sun Gold tomatoes on skewers, lightly brushed them with olive oil and grilled them until they were slightly blistered. It was the perfect, easy accompaniment to the veggie-and-cheese skewers.
For the chermoula:
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1 small red onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- ⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 garlic cloves quartered
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes use more for a spicier sauce
- Pinch of saffron threads
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the skewers
- 2 large zucchini or summer squash
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 7-ounce package of Halloumi cheese
- 8-10 fresh bay leaves optional
Make the chermoula:
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, combine the ingredients for the chermoula. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste—not a smooth paste, but textured (you should be able to see the flecks of herbs). Set aside.
For the skewers:
- Cut the vegetables and cheese into ½-inch thick pieces and place them in a large bowl with the chermoula paste. Toss to coat and cover with plastic wrap; marinate at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
- Thread the marinated veggies and cheese onto skewers, alternating veggies and cheese, and adding in 2-3 bay leaves per skewer.
- Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush the pan with olive oil and cook the skewers until the vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with chermoula every few minutes and turning occasionally. Remove from grill and serve over rice, quinoa, millet.