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: Cast Iron Steaks and Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by preheating your cast-iron skillet in the oven. Meanwhile, make the butter for the steaks and the garlic butter (step 2) for the potatoes. Next, start cooking the potatoes. Once they are gently simmering, start searing the steaks. When the steaks are resting, the potatoes should be ready to mash.
Cast Iron Steaks with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter employs a cast-iron skillet: Its heat-retention properties are ideal for a perfect sear. Heating the skillet in the oven, rather than on the stovetop, ensures even heat distribution. Flipping the steak every two minutes leads to a shorter cooking time and reduces the gray band of dry, overcooked meat just beneath the surface of the crust. Our Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes have a triple dose of garlic for truly complex flavor. We start with garlic paste sautéed in butter for clean, mellow sweetness; follow that with a small amount of raw garlic paste for assertiveness; and then finish with rehydrated garlic powder (also sautéed in butter) for a complex, lightly roasted flavor. Rehydrating the garlic powder in water reactivates the enzyme that produces the compound allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s characteristic flavor.
The Best Food MillsWe wanted to know which food mill was the most stable, efficient, and easy to use.
Dinner 2: Sautéed White Fish Fillets and Spinach Salad
Game Plan: Prep all of the components for the salad (steps 1 and 2) before cooking the fish. Once the second batch of fish has been cooked, rewhisk the dressing to combine, and toss the salad.
To create a browned crust on our Sautéed White Fish Fillets, we first season the fish with salt and let it sit for five minutes. As the fish sits, moisture beads on its exterior, creating a sticky surface for a light flour coating to adhere to. For our Spinach Salad with Carrot, Orange, and Sesame recipe, we shave carrots thin with a vegetable peeler so they don't collect at the bottom of the bowl, then add fresh orange segments for bright, clean flavor and textural appeal.
The Best Rimmed Baking SheetsA rimmed baking sheet is essential for sheet cakes and handy for cookies. But if yours is flimsy or you use it only for baking, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
Dinner 3: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic and Arugula Salad
Game Plan: Start by roasting the garlic for the pasta. Meanwhile, prep the remaining pasta ingredients and the components for the salad. Once the pasta is complete, rewhisk the dressing to combine, and toss the salad.
For Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic, and Walnuts, we cut the cauliflower in a way that maximizes the surface area available for browning. We then toss the florets with oil, salt, pepper, and a little sugar to jump-start caramelization and roast them on a preheated baking sheet to cut the cooking time and boost browning. Finally, we make a sauce with sweet roasted garlic to tie the components of the dish together. For our Arugula Salad recipe, we found ingredients to temper the assertiveness of the arugula while accommodating its lively flavor. Fruit and cheese add sweet and salty notes to balance the peppery arugula. For the dressing, our surprise solution was to add a spoonful of jam, which adds fruity sweetness that pulls the flavors into line.
Printable Shopping Lists: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic, and Walnuts and Arugula Salad with Pears, Almonds, Goat Cheese, and Dried Apricots