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A good, easy summer barbecue

By STEPHANIE ZUBIRI, The Philippine STAR Published May 27, 2021 4:00 am

Summer is here and with it comes sweltering heat and a craving to be outdoors. Personally, I love taking advantage of the sunshine and spending afternoons on our deck with the kids.

During these days, I enjoy a good, easy barbecue. It’s fast, fresh, healthy and tasty. Skewers are the perfect summer all-day food. Prepare them the night before, leave them to marinate and fire up the grill come lunchtime. You can leave them out for guests to nibble on as a snack or serve with pita and veggies for a full meal.

Greek yogurt is one of my favorite marinade bases. It clings on to the meat well and can be pumped up with so much flavor. It also acts as a tenderizer and when marinated overnight, ensures your meat is tender and not dry, particularly useful when using leaner cuts of meat like chicken breast or pork tenderloin.

This particular recipe was inspired by Greek souvlaki — zesty lemon, punchy garlic and earthy dried herbs add depth and flavor to lean pork tenderloin. Pork is often given a bad name for being very fatty and greasy, but actually certain cuts of pork are a great source of lean protein.  It’s also a wonderful alternative to your usual chicken breast that packs in a lot of flavor. 

I love pork tenderloin and how versatile it can be. I always keep some medallions or thin strips in pre-portioned packs in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal. Perfect for throwing into a veggie stir-fry or for pan-searing with some spinach. This recipe is a perfect example of using pork as part of a healthy, balanced and easy meal.

Feel free to replace the pork with some chicken breast or lamb, or even make a mixed batch (keep them in separate containers when marinating) for a fun, mixed-souvlaki platter. Make sure to keep some of the yogurt aside before mixing in the uncooked meat as a dipping sauce.

If you have some extra fresh herbs on hand, like parsley, cilantro or mint, you can chop them up finely last minute and add them to the yogurt dipping sauce.

For those wanting a little extra heat, I like to add about a teaspoon of sambal. Don’t forget to serve with some nicely chilled rosé or an easy white wine like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or maybe a Vermentino.

Herbed pork souvlaki with grilled veggies

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

250 g pork tenderloin, cut into small pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

Juice of 1 lemon

1/8 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Your favorite vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, bell pepper, eggplant, etc.)

Extra olive oil

Fresh parsley, cilantro, mint for garnish and for dipping sauce

1 teaspoon sambal (optional)

Pita bread or tortilla wraps

Procedure:

  1. In a food processor, blitz the yogurt, 1/8 cup olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic and some salt and black pepper. Reserve about 1/4 cup or more of the mixture as a dipping sauce and use the rest as a marinade.
  2. Coat the pork tenderloin in the marinade and set aside for 30 minutes or longer. Overnight is even better as the yogurt will tenderize the pork.
  3. Skewer the pork on barbecue sticks. Heat up a grill or a grill pan. Brush your veggies with olive oil and season. Add some Italian herbs if desired.
  4. Grill till cooked and set aside. Grill the pork till cooked through, about 3 minutes per side if your skewers are not too thick.
  5. Serve immediately with the grilled veggies, some pita bread or a tortilla wrap and the dipping sauce.