Gretchen’s table: Grilled steak kebabs with spicy cilantro sauce

Grilled steak kebabs with spicy cilantro sauce is an easy summer dinner. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

For this meat lover, there may be no better summer dinner than a fat and juicy ribeye steak cooked to perfection over a bed of hot coals. But boy, is that a splurge in these days of high inflation, especially when you’re also cooking for others.

The economical stand-in to that expensive steak doesn’t have to be burgers. Instead, buy a less premium cut of meat, cut it into chunks, let it soak for a few hours in a savory marinade and then stick the pieces on a skewer with your favorite vegetables.


Kebabs are not only more cost-effective than steaks, but also an easy way for home cooks to get meat and a variety of vegetables on the table at the same time. Plus, skewered food is just fun to eat, especially in summer, when dining tends to be a little more casual.

For this recipe, I used top sirloin, a cut that’s leaner than ribeye but still full of beefy flavor. A quick bath in an acidic and garlicky marinade guarantees it will be tender.

A few tips: Be careful not to thread the skewers too tightly; the heat won’t be able to properly circulate if the meat and veggies are crowded together.

Also keep in mind that meats and vegetables cook at different rates — you’ll want to choose ones with similar densities. Produce that is extremely delicate (like cherry tomatoes) or markedly smaller should be cooked on a separate skewer and taken off the heat earlier.

I used bell pepper, Vidalia onion and zucchini for my kebabs but you also could thread the skewers with mushrooms, eggplant or red onion — whatever floats your boat.

Grilled Steak Kebabs with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

For marinade

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

Juice of 1 orange

1 tablespoon honey

1 scant tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 or 2 pinches dried red pepper flakes

Pinch of dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For kebabs

1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak, cut into chunks

1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1 zucchini or summer squash, cut into chunks

For cilantro sauce

1 8-ounce container plain Greek yogurt

1 generous handful cilantro, stems removed and chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Pinch of salt

For rice

4 cups cooked rice

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1 generous handful cilantro, stems removed and chopped

Prepare marinade by mixing olive oil, soy sauce, orange juice, honey, mustard, garlic, pepper flakes, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl or resealable zip-close bag.

Add steak chunks, and stir/massage to combine and make sure all the meat is covered with marinade. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat a grill over medium-high heat to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit (I cooked over charcoal.)

Prepare cilantro sauce by placing all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blending until smooth; taste and add more lime juice or salt to taste. Set aside while you grill kebabs.

Using metal or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water, thread the marinated meat along with the veggies, alternating them on the skewer. (I divided everything between four skewers.)

Be sure to keep a little daylight between the individual pieces — it’ll help everything cook evenly on the grill. You’ll also want to brush the skewers with some of the remaining marinade and discard the rest.

Brush grill grates lightly with oil. Place kebabs on hot grill and grill until center of steak registers about 140-145 degrees for medium, turning kebabs occasionally, about 8- 9 minutes.

In large bowl, fluff cooked rice with fork to separate grains, then add lime juice and zest and chopped cilantro. Toss to combine.

Transfer rice to a large platter, and place kebabs on top. Serve immediately with cilantro sauce.

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