Mark Bittman: Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

photo by Freya Bellinphoto by Freya BellinIt seems like everyone has his or her own guacamole secret. I can always be counted on to use a lot of garlic, a little jalapeno, cilantro, and lime. But it's always fun to add something new here and there, and this guacamole is in fact loaded with extras. I was pleasantly surprised by the unusual addition of shredded lettuce. It adds heft, almost like a guacamole salad, and cuts some of the richness of the avocado. Most importantly, it makes an excellent base for these kebabs, which are very easy to prepare. The simple marinade gives the chicken and veggies a nice kick, and the grill adds that signature smokiness. I made a little extra marinade and put some all-veggie kebabs on the grill, too. Mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini are all great for grilling, in addition to the veggies in this recipe; really, anything goes. Try adding pineapple or other fruits for a sweet variation.

Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes, plus time to marinate

Guacamole, of course, can stand on its own-but it can also act as a support for plenty of other ingredients. Here the avocado is combined with corn kernels and lettuce, but you can use frozen peas, grilled or roasted asparagus, or ripe tomatoes. If you marinate the chicken ahead of time and mix the guacamole a little before serving, the meal comes together in a heartbeat.

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs or legs, cut into 12 or 16 large chunks

1 large onion, cut into large chunks

8 ounces cherry tomatoes

1 bell pepper, any color, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

Salt and black pepper

3 avocados, skin and pits removed

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup corn kernels (thawed frozen are fine)

2 cups shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce

1 fresh hot chile (like serrano or jalapeño), seeded and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

Lime wedges, for serving

1. If you're using wooden skewers (you'll need at least 8), soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes while you prepare the chicken. Thread the chicken, onion, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper alternately onto the skewers, leaving a little space between the pieces.

2. Combine the oil, 3 teaspoons of the garlic, the chili powder, and some salt and pepper; taste and adjust the seasoning. Brush the chicken and vegetables with the oil mixture and let marinate for at least a few minutes or up to 1 hour at room temperature. When you're ready to cook, prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the fire.

3. Meanwhile, make the guacamole: Mash the avocados in a large bowl until they're as smooth or chunky as you like. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, the lime zest and juice, corn, lettuce, chile, and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir, and taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to eat, but no longer than an hour or so.

4. Broil or grill the chicken kebabs, turning once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes (to check for doneness, cut into a piece with a thin-bladed knife; the center should be white or slightly pink). Spoon guacamole onto serving plates, top with the kebabs, garnish with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.


The Food Matters Cookbook offers the most comprehensive and straightforward ideas yet for cooking easy, delicious foods that are as good for you as they are for the planet. The Food Matters Cookbook is the essential encyclopedia and guidebook to responsible eating, with more than 500 recipes that capture Bittman's typically relaxed approach to everything in the kitchen. There is no finger-wagging here, just a no-nonsense and highly flexible case for eating more plants while cutting back on animal products, processed food, and of course junk. But for Bittman, flipping the ratio of your diet to something more virtuous and better for your body doesn't involve avoiding any foods-indeed, there is no sacrifice here. With a tone that is easygoing and non-doctrinaire, Bittman demonstrates the satisfaction and pleasure in mindful eating.