Oven-Roasted Beef, Chicken, or Tofu Kebabs -> Dressed Up in a Pesto Orzo

  • By Jess Dang
  • September 13, 2012

Repurposed Kebabs to Pesto Orzo | Weekly Meal Plans by Cook Smarts

We are so excited to announce that we launched our weekly meal planning newsletter last week. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a free email that comes out every Thursday. Subscribers receive a weekly meal plan, which we pack with our signature smarts, delivered right to their inbox. It’s basically like getting a mini-cooking lesson every week for free (how awesome is that?).

One of the most useful concepts we’ll focus on every week is featuring one repurposed meal, so we can help you get more out of your meals and time in the kitchen.The repurposed meal in our first meal planning newsletter was oven-roasted kebabs eaten off of skewers one night and then dressed up in a pesto orzo the next. It’s a delicious transformation that will make you forget that you’re eating leftovers. Since we also like to be flexible, the kebabs can be made with beef, chicken, or tofu to suit an array of eating needs. As for the orzo, if you’re gluten-free or low-carb, feel free to substitute with a gluten-free version or quinoa. It’ll be just as satisfying, I promise.

Beef, Chicken, or Tofu Kebabs, Repurposed for Orzo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: Jess Dang
Recipe type: Dinner Entree
Serves: 4
Ingredients – Kebabs
  • Red onion, small – 1
  • Pepper (red, yellow, or green) – 1
  • Eggplant – 1
  • Mushrooms, brown – 8 to 12
  • Chicken breast – 1.5 lbs. OR
  • Top sirloin steak – 1.5 lbs. OR
  • Super-firm, vacuum packed tofu – 1 lb.
  • Dijon mustard – ½ tbs.
  • Balsamic vinegar – 3 tbs.
  • Sweetener (your choice) – 1 tbs.
  • Olive oil – 3 tbs.
  • Bamboo skewers – 12 to 16
  • Kosher salt & pepper
Ingredients – Orzo
  • Leftover kebabs
  • Kosher salt
  • Orzo (or other pasta / grain) – ½ lb.
  • Basil – 1 bunch
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Pine nuts / walnuts – ¼ cup
  • Lemon – 1
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, in oil – ¼ cup
  • Feta (optional) – ¼ cup
Prep – Kebabs
  1. Protein – Chop into ~1″ cubes. If cooking with meat, season with kosher salt and pepper and tenderize with a fork
  2. Onions & Red pepper – Chop into squares
  3. Eggpant – Cube
  4. Mushrooms – Chop in half Vegetables for kebabs | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang
Make – Kebabs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Soak bamboo skewers in some water, which prevents them from burning during the roasting process
  3. Mix together Dijon, balsamic vinegar, sweetener, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in olive oil
  4. Toss protein and vegetables in this marinade, so that all you ingredients are well-coated
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and assemble your skewers. It’s up to you to decide on the order and distribution of protein and vegetables. Sprinkle skewers with some kosher salt and then place in the oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. If grilling, use 2 skewers, which makes turning them easier (Grill on high heat for 3 minutes on each side, and then lower heat to medium for 10 more minutes) How to assemble kebabs | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang
  6. Check on kebabs when timer goes off. For chicken, do slice into a cube to see if it’s no longer pink inside. Enjoy!
Smarts – Kebabs
  1. If you have extra marinade, use it as a salad vinaigrette and throw together a side salad (spinach, tomatoes, and cucumber would be a great complement to these kebabs)
  2. If you remember ahead of time, marinade the protein the night before. You can keep it simple with just kosher salt and pepper but you can also make a quick marinade with soy sauce, crushed garlic, and some brown sugar Marinating proteins for kebabs | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang
  3. No time to deal with raw protein but not a tofu fan? Slice up pre-cooked sausages and use that instead
Prep – Orzo
  1. None
Make – Orzo
  1. Bring at least 3 quarts of water to boil. While waiting for water to boil, prep next few things
  2. Reheat leftover kebabs in microwave or in oven
  3. Rough chop your sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside
  4. When water boils, salt heavily so that the water tastes like the ocean, and then add orzo. Cook for about 7 to 11 minutes, until softened but al dente (with a bite still). Stir orzo every so often to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of your pot. While pasta is cooking, start your pesto
  5. Rinse and dry basil. Peel garlic cloves. Place basil, garlic, nuts, juice of half a lemon, and a generous pinch of kosher salt in a large food processor (or blender). Pulse until ingredients form a rough paste. Continue to blend while drizzling in olive oil through opening of machine. ¼ cup is just a guide. You can use less or more depending on the thickness of the pesto you want. When you’re done blending, season to taste with more kosher salt, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper
  6. Check on pasta. If done, drain, and toss with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. Top with crumbled feta if desired and leftover kebabs
Smarts – Orzo
  1. Heat up your oven and toss in some quick roasting, low-maintenance vegetables, like asparagus, baby bok choy, or zucchini. Just a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper, and you have a healthy side
  2. To get dinner on the table even quicker, you can always use a pre-made pesto
  3. Double (or triple) the pesto recipe and freeze what you don’t need. It takes pretty much the same time to make one batch or several!


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