Beyond Burgers

Sometimes a mid-week dinner inspiration is lacking at best. We've had a bunch of standbys: pizza, tacos, pasta, and more. Burgers seem just as overdone, but there is some ground beef wanting to be used in the refrigerator. So what's for dinner? How about highly seasoned ground beef kebabs with all the extra goodies you've come to expect from Middle Eastern cuisine:

The key to making these kebabs a simple weekday option is planning ahead. I usually mix the ground meat with the rest of the ingredients the night before I plan to serve them. That way, when dinner time rolls around the next day, all I need to do is form the kebabs, insert the skewers, and grill them on the grill in the backyard or sear them in a grill pan in the kitchen. These kebabs only take about 20 minutes to actually cook, so it's just what you need on a busy day. Just remember to prep the meat mixture before you go to bed the night before.

I love having, at a minimum, warm pita bread and a simple yogurt sauce consisting of finely diced onions and/or cucumbers, salt and pepper, and a little extra virgin olive oil mixed into my favorite Greek yogurt. I always make a little more than I think I'll need and, when it doesn't just get gobbled up at the table, I use it alongside my favorite seasoned chicken or pork recipe later in the week. You'll note that this recipe makes a lot of kebabs. I love having folks over to enjoy it with me, but it also reheats well, so I've been known to set some aside for leftovers night, a fun tailgating meal, or even a fancy lunch.

If you have more time, be sure to add more vegetables to this menu. I love thinly sliced red onions, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and even black or kalamata olives. I also enjoy crumbled feta or goat cheese and a dollop or three of hummus. If you wanted to get downright fancy, make a batch of jasmine rice and stir in crispy fried onions and slivered almonds. Mmmm, this is some beautiful food and you don't have to wait until there's a free weekend to enjoy it!

Beef Kofta

  • 1 T. Penzeys turkish seasoning (or similar spice blend)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. loosely packed fresh parsley leaves (I prefer flat leaf), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 lbs. ground beef

At least 2 hours and up to 2 days prior to cooking these kebabs, assemble the meat mixture. Combine all of the ingredients in a large, resealable container and, using your hands, mix well. Allow the meat the chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to continue cooking.

Using your hands, form long, thin patties and gently press soaked wooden skewers into them, lengthwise. The skewers are optional, but they do make grilling, in particular, easier.

Prepare your grill or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the skewers until fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes, turning at least once during the cooking process. Serve the skewers hot with yogurt sauce, if desired.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus chilling time

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