Kebabs are a weave of function and flavor. The concept is simple, but the execution takes some know-how to get dinner on the table.

Protein that stacks up

Uniformly cut cubes or meatballs shaped in similar sizes will ensure even cooking. Beef, chicken or pork are obvious choices. But here are other options:

LAMB: The traditional choice of meat for Turkish shish kebabs. Ground lamb meatballs are the preferred style of the meat.

FISH: Use 1-inch cubes of firm-fleshed varieties such as tuna, swordfish, halibut or mahi mahi.

SHELLFISH: Work with shelled large or jumbo scallops and lobster-tail meat.

SAUSAGES: Cut into 1-inch rounds and keep the casings on to hold the fillings together.

Threading with flavor

Fruits and veggies that take the heat Consider how easily cut produce exudes water when choosing what to skewer or what form of the produce you use. Whole foods or large chunks work best. Brushing with olive oil locks in flavor and aids the cooking process.

Here are more tips:

TOMATOES: Whole cherry or grape varieties should be put on the grill during the last few minutes of cooking. The longer they cook, the more they will deflate.

ONIONS: When meat is halfway done, put onions on grill. Cut surfaces should be golden brown, and the inside should be cooked, not raw.

NECTARINES, PEACHES AND PEARS: Just-ripe fruit adds just a touch of sweet to your kebab mixtures.

POTATOES: Density can make potatoes problematic. Partially cooking in the microwave and then finishing on the grill will get them to the dinner plate at the same time as the other foods.

ASPARAGUS: Always trim tough ends.

GARLIC: Kebabs are a great roasting vehicle for large cloves.

Dijon-wine steak kebabs: Marinate 1 1/4 pounds boneless beef round tip steak (cut into 1-inch by 1 1/4-inch pieces) in 2 tablespoons each water, red-wine vinegar and coarse grain Dijon mustard, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight. Remove beef, discard marinade. On 8 metal skewers, thread the beef alternately with red onion cut into wedges, yellow squash chunks and red bell pepper pieces. Grill 8-10 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Serve with long grain and wild rice, broccoli florets and a salad.

Rosemary Lamb Kebabs With Bell Peppers and Mushrooms

Yield: 6 kebabs.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar