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: Stuffed Bell Peppers and Greek Salad
For Classic Stuffed Bell Peppers that are soft and tender yet firm enough to stuff, we blanch the peppers for three minutes before stuffing them. For the filling, we augment the classic combination of rice and ground beef with sautéed onions, garlic, and plenty of melty cheese. Our Greek Salad features crisp ingredients and bold flavors, including briny olives and tangy feta, all highlighted with a bright-tasting dressing. For balance, we use a combination of lemon juice and red wine vinegar and add olive oil, fresh oregano, and a small amount of garlic.
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Dinner 2: Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops and Barley with Fennel
Game Plan: Bring water to a boil and add the barley. While the barley boils, prepare the ingredients for the lamb. Start cooking the chops (steps 2 and 3), monitoring the barley for doneness. While the lamb braises, prep the remaining barley ingredients; then drain and cool the grains. While the lamb finishes (step 4), toss the barley salad.
Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops with Tomatoes and Red Wine starts with a relatively tender cut that doesn't need a long cooking time. In about 20 minutes, the chops reach the desired doneness after simmering in a simple yet flavorful sauce of tomatoes and red wine. Our Barley with Fennel, Dried Apricots, and Orange boasts grains with a tender chew and that don’t clump together. We cook the barley like pasta—boiled in a large volume of salted water and then drained—to rid the grains of much of their sticky starch, which would otherwise cause them to clump. Once the barley is cooked, we let it cool briefly on a rimmed baking sheet to help it dry thoroughly and then toss it with an acid-heavy dressing (a 1:1 ratio of oil to acid instead of the typical 3:1 ratio).
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Dinner 3: Tuscan Shrimp and Beans and Green Leaf and Radicchio Salad
To give our Tuscan Shrimp and Beans a full seafood flavor, we make a quick concentrated stock with the shrimp shells and use it to simmer the beans. To season the shrimp and keep them plump and juicy, we brine them briefly, add them late in the cooking process, and then reduce the heat so they gently simmer. Plenty of basil provides herbal freshness; lemon juice and zest contribute acidity and aroma. Our Green Leaf and Radicchio Salad uses a combination soft, mineral-y green leaf lettuce and bitter, crunchy radicchio. Sweet, peppery grapefruit and grassy fennel both counteract the bitterness of the radicchio and add brightness. Parmesan cheese contributes richness that helps round out the flavors.