Beets are my favorite vegetable. Actually, they are my second favorite right after celery. But I love them both for the same reason: you can use the roots, stalks, leaves -- the whole vegetable -- when cooking. Most home cooks don't think about using the beet greens and stalks. Oftentimes, they lop them off with a kitchen knife and toss them away, leaving just the red or golden beet roots to be cooked and eaten.
I created these Grilled Beet and Beef Kebabs to show home cooks how to make a whole meal with beets -- from root to leaf -- for a fresh, summer family dinner or weekend get-together. The kebabs appeal to beef eaters and veggie lovers alike. The meatiness of the beets matches the beef chunks one-to-one, satisfying the most persnickety of carnivores. The smokiness from the grill brings delicious depth to the beets, delighting vegetarians with a flavorful, filling meal. Paleo adherents are typically more than pleased, too. The coriander-paprika crust adds excitement without fuss for clean-focused eaters.
The trick to getting the kebabs ready is to steam the beets for 15 minutes while the grill preheats. They soften just enough to slide easily onto the wooden skewers with the spice-dusted beef. The sauce is exceptionally easy and comes together while the kebabs are on the grill. Just four ingredients plus a little water transform a briny block of feta into lip-licking ranch dressing to drizzle and dip into. The greens and stalks are chopped and tossed in high quality olive oil, then salt-and-peppered and piled high on a platter for a colorful and simple salad to complement the kebabs.
In a Hurry Strategies
- Microwave the beets in a shallow glass dish with a little water until tender with a fork; keep the red beets separated from the yellow beets so they don't get stained
- Steam the beets the night before and store the red and yellow in separate re-sealable plastic bags
- Buy stew beef already cut into cubes
- Use a grill pan on the stove top, instead of an outdoor grill
Dress it Up Tips
- Use chunks of pork tenderloin or chicken
- Thread wedges of fresh orange in between the beets and beef for a bite of sweetness and added color. Squeeze the grilled orange over the kebabs just before eating.
- Poach the beets in pinot noir instead of steaming for greater depth of flavor
Grilled Beet and Beef Skewers with Cilantro Feta Sauce
Recipe and photo courtesy of Josie's Organics
For the kebabs
- 1 lb. sirloin beef, cut into 1" cubes
- 2 Tablespoons coriander seeds, coarsely ground
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 red beets, washed, quartered, trimmed, stalks and greens reserved
- 3 golden beets, washed, quartered, trimmed, stalks greens reserved
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
For the sauce
- 1 8 oz. package feta with brine
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk or water (as desired)
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
Soak the wooden skewers in water for an hour before grilling to prevent burning.
In a small bowl, mix together the coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the beef cubes in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the spice mixture and shake until the beef cubes are completely covered. Set aside.
Fill a medium size pot with 1-2" of water. Place the beets in a steam basket and put into the pot. Bring the water to a boil on medium high heat. Let the beets steam 15-20 minutes until tender with a knife. Remove the basket and let the beets cool about 5 minutes.
While the beets are steaming, pre-heat the grill to medium high and make the sauce.
Place the feta, garlic and olive oil in a small food processor. Pulse until thick and creamy. Stream in milk or water until dressing is thin enough to coat the back of a spoon. Fold in the cilantro. Place in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Thread the skewers with 2-3 pieces of beets and beef. Brush the kebabs lightly with the oil. Place directly on the grill and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until the beef is pink in the center and beets are charred on the edges. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.
Slice the beet greens into ½" strips and the stalks into ¼" pieces, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the kebabs on a large platter with the sauce and greens on the side.
Chadwick Boyd is a food & lifestyle expert and TV host that specializes in vegetables. He has a Recipe Collection titled, "Entertaining with Vegetables," is an ambassador for the United Fresh Produce Association and serves as the recipe developer for Josie's Organics. Boyd is working on a new vegetable book for home cooks slated for release in 2017.