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: Grilled Scallops and Italian Bread Salad
Game Plan: Start by toasting the bread and salting the tomatoes for the salad (steps 1 and 2). Dry the scallops (step 1). Light the grill, then prepare the salad dressing and the oil mixture for the scallops. Right before grilling the scallops, toss the bread with the dressing. Finish the salad (step 4) after the scallops are removed from the grill.
We look for untreated "dry" scallops for our Grilled Scallops to avoid the soapy flavor that affects "wet" scallops that have been treated with chemicals. To enhance browning and make flipping easier, we lightly coat the scallops with a slurry of vegetable oil, flour, cornstarch, and sugar and thread them onto a pair of metal skewers. Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella) benefits from the liquid exuded by the tomatoes, so we toss garden fresh tomatoes with salt and let them drain in a colander until they shed a good bit of juice. Using that juice in the dressing boosts its fresh flavor. Drying the bread in the oven until it turns golden brown gives our panzanella nutty depth. We allow the dressing to lightly saturate the bread before we stir in the tomatoes.
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 2: Pasta Frittata and Wilted Spinach Salad
Game Plan: Prep all of the ingredients for both dishes. Cook the frittata through step 2. Complete steps 1 and 2 of the salad recipe and fry the bacon. Once you have returned the rendered fat to the skillet, set the salad components aside, and cook the frittata through step 4. As the frittata rests in the skillet, finish the salad.
For a Pasta Frittata with Sausage and Hot Peppers that showcases the 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 boil the pasta in just 3 cups of water in the same 10-inch nonstick skillet that we then use to cook the frittata. In our brightly flavored Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, the dressing does the work of wilting the greens. Simply heat the dressing ingredients in a skillet and pour it over the spinach, then add hard-cooked eggs and crisp bacon pieces.
12-Inch Nonstick SkilletsWe demanded our contenders clear a slew of sticky hurdles.
Dinner 3: Deviled Pork Chops and Corn Fritters
Game Plan: Prep and roast the chops. While the chops are in the oven, prep and fry the fritters.
Our Deviled Pork Chops are slow-roasted in a low oven in order to keep the lean meat as juicy as possible. We “devil” the chops by painting them with a bold, balanced mix of sharp Dijon mustard combined with dry mustard (for an extra jolt of heat), minced garlic, and cayenne and black peppers. For textural contrast and visual appeal, we coat the tops of the chops with crispy toasted panko bread crumbs. To maximize the corn flavor in our Corn Fritters, we use a corn puree as a thickener rather than flour or cornmeal. Cooking the corn puree in a skillet gets rid of excess moisture and deepens the flavor even more. Adding cayenne, nutty Parmesan cheese, and oniony chives balances the natural sweetness of the corn, and a touch of cornstarch gives the fritters a crispy exterior.