Summer is a perfect time to experiment with one of the best flavor boosters beyond the spice rack: fire.
Grills, of course, are great for burgers, chicken and hot dogs. But hot grates also bring out something special in fruits and vegetables, lending a smoky essence (and some sexy grill marks!) to everything they touch. And much like salt, a little heat releases the mouth-watering scent of ingredients, enhancing the flavor of a dish without the extra sodium.
So while you have the kebab skewers out, have some fun. Here, a Caprese salad gets a low-sodium twist with grill-friendly paneer in place of the usual, saltier mozzarella. Just thread everything on a stick, and then head to the barbie.
Mini Balsamic Caprese Skewers
Serves 4 to 6
½ medium zucchini, washed and knobby end removed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
1 cup cubed paneer, cut into 1-inch pieces
16 mini wooden skewers, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
Handful fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each piece in half again, making four long strips. Cut across the strips to make 1-inch cubes. Then, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spices. Add the zucchini to the bowl and let it marinate for 30 minutes to overnight, tossing a few times.
When ready, bring the grill to medium-high heat. Drain the zucchini from the marinade and set the marinade aside.
To assemble the skewers, thread a tomato half, a paneer cube and a marinated zucchini cube onto each skewer. Repeat until you’ve made all your skewers. Then use the remaining tablespoon of oil to brush each one.
Place the skewers directly onto the grill grates for 5 minutes, turning every so often so all sides get some heat. When finished, transfer the warm skewers to a serving platter and sprinkle the top with fresh basil. Serve with the reserved marinade for dipping.
Note: You can always double up the ingredients on each skewer for larger portions.
Sodium Count: zucchini: 16 mg per medium zucchini; cherry tomatoes: 7 mg per cup; paneer cheese: 5 mg per ounce (may vary by brand)
All sodium content from the USDA National Nutrient Database, release 26, and based on values for raw ingredients for traditional serving sizes.
Jessica Goldman Foung began the blog SodiumGirl.com to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life. She regularly writes about salt-free flavor tips and ingredient swaps. She released her first cookbook, Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, in 2012 and is working on her second to be released next year.