As we started eating less and less meat, we found that something unexpected has happened to our taste buds. Sure, we smell a burger grilling and have vegetarian’s remorse. But, on the whole, it’s been surprising how well we’ve been able to cope without copious amounts of meat. It’s almost as if our digestive system has adjusted to the new normal and has recalibrated—by drastically reducing—its desire for carnivorous meals.
In fact, instead of getting bored with eating vegetables, I find that I actually have more of a hankering for them. When I’ve been consuming a lot of roasted root vegetables, I might get inordinately excited over a fresh salad. When salads have accompanied most meals, I might salivate over a baked potato or grilled asparagus. In other words, eating more vegetables hasn’t reduced my appreciation for vegetables but instead has increased my desire for them. On the flip side, I find that I can go ever longer without craving meat. Odd, huh?
Case in point: this past weekend. During our official “Lent” period, we looked forward to each Sunday when we could “break” our “fast” and eat as much beef, chicken, and pork as possible. We inclined towards larger pieces (whole roast chicken, double-cut pork chops, oh my!), even if it meant having to pack away our leftovers in the freezer. But last Sunday, as we cast about for our special weekend dinner, we kept on dismissing the usual. We even thought—gasp!—about having fish again. On a Sunday!
We finally settled on shish-kebabs because we had chunks of tenderloin left over from when I trimmed side muscle meat off a roast. After defrosting the beef, I cut them into ¾-1 inch pieces and went about chopping red and green peppers, and red and yellow onions into similarly sized pieces. After cleaning caps off of cremini mushrooms, I threaded everything onto skewers.
For a simple marinade, I combined ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 large minced garlic, ½ teaspoon oregano flakes, and fresh ground salt and black pepper. (When you stir this mixture, you get a chunky dressing.) I then spooned the mixture over one side of the shish-kebabs on skewers, and then turned and spooned over more marinade on another side, slathering over as much surface area as possible.
You need not let the kebabs marinate too long. Just heat and oil the grill, cook just 2-3 minutes on 4 sides until vegetables are nicely charred. Because these are beef tenderloin skewers, you need not worry too much about timing. Medium-rare is how we like our beef, and that was just enough time for the vegetable pieces to acquire a nice char. But even if you ended up cooking for longer, tenderloin doesn’t dry out much. It’s almost a foolproof technique for cooking meat.
I paired these kebabs with Persian Dill Rice which is essentially Basmati Rice with a large amount (2 tablespoon or so) of chopped dill mixed in at the end. Yum Yum.