Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
Dinner 1: Turkey Meatloaf with Sautéed Green Beans
Game Plan: The meatloaf will take a little more than an hour to get on the table, but most of the cooking time is unattended. Prep the green beans as the meatloaf bakes, and then cook them as the meatloaf is resting.
Substituting store-bought ground turkey for beef can lead to a dense, mushy Turkey Meatloaf. To avoid this, we stir in quick oats, which add just the right amount of chew and help to open up the texture of the dense turkey. To avoid overwhelming the mild flavor of the turkey with too many add-ins, we stir in a modest amount of onion, as well as garlic, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and Dijon mustard. Finally, we coat the meatloaf in a ketchup-based glaze, which we add in two stages to ensure that it sticks to the exterior. For Sautéed Green Beans that are tender, lightly browned, and fresh tasting, we sauté the beans first, then add water to the pan and cover it so the beans finish cooking in steam.
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Dinner 2: Pasta Frittata with Mushrooms and Spicy Green Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping and cooking the frittata. As the pasta cooks (step 3) prep all the ingredients for the salad. As the frittata stands (step 5), shake the vinaigrette to recombine and then toss it with the greens.
For a Pasta Frittata that showcases egg and pasta in equal measure, we opt for superthin angel hair pasta. The strands of angel hair form a delicate network throughout the eggy interior. For convenience, we cook the pasta in just 3 cups of water in the same 10-inch nonstick skillet that we then use to cook the frittata. For flavor and textural contrast, we include in assertive add-ins like gorgonzola cheese and mushrooms. We pair the rich frittata with Spicy Salad with Mustard and Balsamic Vinaigrette. This bold salad uses a mix of greens, like arugula and watercress, that are dressed with a pungent vinaigrette.
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Dinner 3: Italian Sausage with Grapes and Creamy Polenta
Game Plan: For this pairing, start with the polenta. Once the cornmeal has been added to the water and the heat reduced, start preparing the sausage. By the time the polenta is fully cooked, the sausages should be ready to serve as well. If the sausages are done early, they can be held in the skillet, covered, and rewarmed before serving.
Italian Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic Vinegar is a great example of the affinity that pork and fruit have for each other. Taking inspiration from a potsticker cooking method, we use a combination of sautéing and steaming to produce sausages that are nicely browned while still moist and juicy. For the sauce, we cook down seedless red grapes and thinly sliced onion until caramelized to create a sweet but complex base. White wine, in addition to balsamic vinegar, lends the dish acidity and complements the grapes. Oregano and pepper contribute earthiness and a touch of spice, while a finish of fresh mint adds brightness. For our Creamy Parmesan Polenta, we use coarse-ground, degerminated cornmeal, which provides a soft but hearty texture and nutty flavor. A pinch of baking soda cuts the cooking time in half and eliminates the need for stirring.