Lemon Kefir Marinated Chicken Skewers and Grilled Pineapple and Kale Salad

This recipe was developed by Chef Cindy Hutson for the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast to Coast” Tour!

Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you – this recipe for Lemon Kefir Marinated Chicken Skewers and Grilled Pineapple and Kale Salad is totally worth it! To save time, prepare the dressing and marinade ahead of time.


  • 1 cup Lifeway Plain Low Fat Kefir
  • 1 + 1 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil, + more for the salad
  • 1/3 + 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (about 4 sprigs)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (about 5 sprigs)
  • 24 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cleaned of fat and cut into large cubes
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic
  • ¾ cup of roasted shallots
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 (1/2 inch) slices fresh pineapple
  • 1 vanilla bean, insides scraped out and reserved
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 handfuls kale, washed and dried
  • 4 handfuls mixed baby greens, washed and dried
  • 4 handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried
  • 2½ cups chunked heirloom tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Bamboo skewers soaked in water, as needed for grilling


  1. For the chicken: whisk together 1/2 cup kefir, 1 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, chopped garlic, rosemary and thyme. Add the chicken cubes and marinate for a minimum of two hours.
  2. After the chicken is finished marinating, skewer it onto bamboo skewers and grill or broil until cooked, 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. For the dressing: add ½ cup kefir, roasted garlic, roasted shallots, Dijon mustard, marmalade, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, honey, 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1 ¾ cups good quality olive oil.
  4. Blend on high until smooth. Store in the refrigerators until ready to use.
  5. For the salad: using an oiled grilling pan (or an outdoor grill), grill the pineapple slices over high heat, charring on both sides. When cool to touch, chop into chunks. Toss pineapple chunks with sugar and scraped vanilla bean in a bow. Set aside.
  6. To prepare kale for raw eating, remove the thick center stem by tearing off leaves. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil in the palm of hands with a little Kosher salt. Take kale leaves in your hands a few at a time and rub or massage the kale for a few minutes, until it becomes bright green in color. To assemble, place kale, mixed baby greens and arugula in a bowl, toss with tomatoes and desired amount of dressing.
  7. Divide among four salad plates and top with grilled pineapple and two chicken skewers.

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