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Steak and Campari Tomato Kabobs with a Tomatillo Sauce

Labor Day is just around the corner; and, for some of us, our grilling days are numbered. One of my family’s favorite grilled recipes is Steak and Campari Tomato Kabobs with a Tomatillo Sauce.

I love cooking with Campari tomatoes, which are known for their superior texture and distinct acid/sugar balance. Campari tomatoes are a hybrid tomato, not an heirloom, and developed by a Dutch seed company to meet the needs of the tomato market in the late 20th century. This tomato first appeared in supermarkets in the 1990s and was branded “the tomato lover’s tomato”. In 2002, the Campari tomato appeared in an episode of “The Sopranos”, increasing its visibility and popularity and boosting its sales.

In my opinion, Campari tomatoes are the sweetest and most flavorful tomatoes available at the supermarket. Larger than cherry tomatoes, yet smaller and rounder than plum tomatoes, they are the perfect size for kabobs. They are deep red in color, redder than most tomatoes in the supermarket, because they are grown hydroponically and ripened on the vine. Since they are shipped from the farm to the supermarket with their vines attached, they continue to ripen naturally.

Not only are Campari tomatoes the perfect size for grilling, but they are also ideal for snacking and salads and as an accompaniment to mozzarella cheese or specialty meats like prosciutto. They make delicious salsa and spaghetti sauce, pairing well with basil and garlic. I also love roasting them in the oven with Herbs de Provence.

If you are looking for something different for your next barbecue, try my Steak and Campari Tomato Kabobs with a Tomatillo Sauce. The sweetness of the Campari tomatoes compliments the spicy rub I use on the steak cubes; and the zesty, flavorful tomatillo sauce makes this dish “to die for”.

Steak and Tomato Kabobs with a Tomatillo Sauce Serves 4 to 6

For the sauce:

10 tomatillos 2 cups water 1 avocado ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream 4 dashes Sriracha® sauce, or your favorite hot sauce 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon minced garlic ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste Remove husks and stems from tomatillos. In a medium saucepan, place tomatillos and water over medium-high heat and boil tomatillos until soft and water has evaporated. Place tomatillos in a blender and purée until smooth. Pit and peel avocado and place in the blender. Purée until smooth. Add Mexican crema and purée until smooth. Season with Sriracha®, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Pour the tomatillo mixture into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the rub: 2 teaspoons dry mustard 2 teaspoons onion salt 2 teaspoons garlic salt 2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin In a small bowl, combine mustard, onion salt, garlic salt, chili powder, paprika, coriander, and cumin. For the kabobs:

2 pounds ball-tip or sirloin steak 16 Campari tomatoes

Preheat the grill to medium. Using a sharp knife, cut steak into 1 ½-inch pieces and coat with the rub. Thread metal skewers by alternating tomatoes and steak. Grill kabobs directly over medium heat, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes. The skin of tomatoes will be lightly charred. To serve: Spread the tomatillo sauce on a serving plate and lay a grilled kabob over the sauce. Serve any extra sauce on the side.

Tips on shopping for Campari tomatoes: Select firm and plump tomatoes. Do not buy pale, spotted, or mushy specimens. Avoid tomatoes with blemishes or cracks. Color is a good indicator of freshness. Pick brightly colored tomatoes. Campari tomatoes are packaged in plastic containers. Check the bottom of the container for quality as well.

Tips on storing Campari tomatoes: Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight until completely ripe. Once ripe, store Campari tomatoes in the refrigerator.   Tips on shopping for tomatillos: Choose firm, dry tomatillos that fit tightly into their husks. Check to be sure the husks are dry to the touch. Underneath the husk, a tomatillo should be green, which is an indication it is not totally ripe—its preferred state. Do not buy sticky or yellow tomatillos.

Tips on storing tomatillos: If kept in their husks, placed in a paper bag, and refrigerated, tomatillos will keep up to 1 month.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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