Tuscan Hearth

According to Wikipedia, kabobs or kebabs, originated in Persia but were later embraced by most of the Middle East. There are many variations of kebabs around the world and the term shish kebab comes from the Turkish language literally meaning roasted meat skewers.  The kabob was a true to life solution for nomadic tribes who marinated unusual meats to tenderize them and remove their gaminess. The meat was then threaded onto skewers and roasted over a fire.

While the Turks created this delicious dish, their recipe spread across cultures in one form or another. Southeast Asian cultures have satay, Japanese call it yakitori, the French say brochettes and in Italy it is spiedini.

Italian grilling is for the most part fairly simple. Top-quality meats, with a light marinade, are grilled over hardwood coals. Grill several kinds of meat at one time, and you have a grigliata mista, or mixed grilled meats. It’s hard to beat, and that is why many Italians have a hearth in the cantinetta, the combination den and dining room where they entertain guests.

The concept behind spiedini, threading foods on a skewer and setting them over the coals or into the oven, is obvious, easy, and almost infinitely variable. In Italy they were originally made with sausage, chicken, beef or pork separated by pieces of bread and they were often prepared and sold that way by a butcher.  The one thing they lacked were vegetables but today spiedini or kabobs often include vegetables in the Italian preparation.



Fish Spiedini with Herbs – Spiedini di Pesce alle Erbe

Serves 4

The combination of salmon and monkfish works very well in these garlic and herb infused fish kebabsGrouper, red snapper, black cod (sablefish), striped bass, tilefish, turbot, orange roughy, Alaskan Pollock, sturgeon, hake (whiting) can also replace monkfish in a variety of recipes because they utilize the same cooking techniques.


  • 3/4 pound skinless salmon fillet
  • 1/2 pound boned monkfish fillet
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced marjoram or oregano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced basil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Long skewers
  • Lemon for garnish


Cut the fish into 1-inch cubes. Put the fish in a glass bowl, pour the orange juice over it, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill it for an hour in the refrigerator, giving the bowl a shake every now and again.

While the fish is marinating, heat your grill.

Chop the herbs and the garlic. Put them in a small serving bowl with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Drain the fish and put the pieces on the skewers, alternating salmon and monkfish. Brush the kabobs with some of the oil mixture and reserve the rest for serving with the cooked kabobs.

Grill the kebabs for about 10 minutes, turning them often. Serve the fish kebabs with the herbed oil, lemon and a white wine, for example, an Alcamo from Sicily.

Chicken Spiedini

Spicy Chicken Spiedini Recipe – Spiedini di Pollo Piccanti

These Chicken Spiedini are also excellent to add to an antipasto platter.

18 Spicy Chicken Spiedini


  • 2 1/4 pounds  skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise to obtain 18 pieces of chicken breast, about 3/4 inch wide and as long as possible
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, ideally freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 18 skewers, each long enough to accommodate one piece of chicken


If the skewers are made of wood, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Put the sliced chicken breasts in a glass bowl large enough to hold them comfortably.

Gently heat the oil and the garlic in a saucepan for about 2 minutes; you want to heat the oil but not cook it. Remove and discard the garlic.

Mix the remaining ingredients into the oil and pour it over the chicken. Mix well and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.

Thread one piece of chicken on each  skewer. Heat coals or a gas grill or a broiler, and cook the spiedini over high heat, turning them once or twice; about 5-7 minutes.


Bell Pepper and Pork Spiedini Recipe – Spiedini di Maiale e Peperone

Serves 4


  • 1 1/4 pounds boned lean pork loin
  • 2 bell peppers of the colors you prefer, e.g. yellow and red
  • 1 large onion (sweet, such as Vidalia)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Skewers, 8-10 inches long


If the skewers are made of wood, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Cut the pork  into 3/4 inch cubes. Peel and cut the onion into 1 inch squares. Seed the peppers and cut them into 1 inch squares.

Skewer the meat and the vegetables, alternating between pork and vegetables.. While you’re doing this, heat your grill or broiler.

Whisk the olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl, and brush the spiedini with the mixture. Cook them for 10-15 minutes or until done, turning them occasionally.

Serve with a light, zesty red along the lines of a Sangiovese di Romagna.

sausage kabobs

Sausage And Shallot Spiedini – Spiedini alla Salsiccia

Serves 4


  • 1 1/4 pounds fairly thin fresh Italian sausage (e.g. Luganega)
  • 1/2 pound peeled shallots or onions (they should be about the same diameter as the sausage)
  • 12 – 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, if you cannot find fresh bay leaves, torn into pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 skewers


Combine the wine and oregano in a bowl. Cut the sausages into 1 1/4-inch lengths and steep them in the wine and oregano for about an hour.

Boil the shallots for 5 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain them and let them cool.

Heat your grill.

Drain the sausage pieces and skewer them, alternating with shallots and cherry tomatoes, and putting pieces of basil between the sausage and vegetables.

Brush the kebabs with the olive oil, paying special attention to the shallots and tomatoes (the sausages will be self-basting), and grill them for 15 minutes, turning them often and brushing the vegetables again if need be. Serve them hot.

surf and turf

Surf and Turf Spiedini – Spiedini Con Manzo e Gamberoni

Serves 4


  • 4 slices of beef fillet weighing about 6 ounces each
  • 12 jumbo shrimp 
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 skewers


Cut each piece of beef fillet into 4 equal pieces and put them in a bowl.

Shell the shrimp, leaving the tails on because having the tails will make them easier to eat and also makes for an attractive presentation.

Heat your grill.

Combine the lemon juice, wine, and olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and marinate the meat for 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp, mix well, and marinate everything for another 5 minutes.

Remove the meat and shrimp from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Skewer the meat and the shrimp, alternating pieces of meat with pieces of shrimp.

Grill the kebabs over hot coals for 5-10 minutes (depending upon how well done you like your meat and shrimp), turning them often and basing them repeatedly with the marinade.

Serve with a rosé, for example, Bardolino Chiaretto.

vegetable spiedini

Italian Vegetable Spiedini

While Italians do not generally add vegetables to their spiedini, you could grill a few skewers of just vegetables to accompany the meat or fish spiedini as a healthier approach.

Serves 4


  • 2 small zucchini, sliced 1” thick
  • 2 small yellow squash, sliced 1” thick
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced into 1” pieces
  • 1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, sliced into 1” pieces
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1”  cubes, skin on
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 head garlic (prepare as directed below)
  • 8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms (also called crimini)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning mix, see post:http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/06/25/homemade-italian-sauces-marinades-and-seasoning-mixes/
  • Shredded fresh basil for garnish


Soak wooden skewers in water prior to using or use metal skewers.

Wash vegetables and cut as directed. Skewer vegetables with similar cooking times together. Skewer potatoes by themselves. Skewer red peppers and onions together. Skewer squash and mushrooms together.

Whisk vinegar and 4 tablespoons olive oil together until emulsified and add Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Trim a thin slice off the top of garlic, set on a piece of foil large enough to enclose the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap tightly and set on grill until garlic is soft.

Place skewers on grill. Baste with vinaigrette mixture. When veggies on the bottom side of skewer get dark grill marks, turn 90 degrees, and baste again, repeating until skewer is fully cooked.

Remove all vegetables and toss on large platter. Squeeze grill roasted garlic from head and toss with grilled vegetables.