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: Easy Roast Chicken and Boiled Carrots
Game Plan: Prep the carrots while the chicken is roasting in the oven. Boil the carrots while the chicken rests.
Weeknight Roast Chicken boasts rich flavor and juicy meat in about an hour. Placing the chicken breast side up in a preheated skillet gives the thighs a jump-start. Starting the chicken in a 450-degree oven and then turning the oven off while the chicken finishes cooking slows the evaporation of juices, ensuring moist, tender meat. Boiling is the quickest, simplest way to produce tender, well-seasoned carrots. For our Boiled Carrots with Fennel Seeds and Citrus, we cook the carrots in just 2 cups of well-salted water, which not only adds seasoning but the small amount of liquid also helps the carrots retain some of their natural sugars as well as helps them cook faster. After draining, we add a little butter for richness and some lemon juice and orange zest for brightness.
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Dinner 2: Eggs Pipérade and Quinoa Pilaf
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Start cooking the pilaf. Once the pilaf is simmering covered (step 3), prepare the egg dish.
Eggs Pipérade, a Basque classic, features rich, tender scrambled eggs paired with mix of tomatoes and sautéed peppers. We use a combination of red bell peppers and pale green Cubanelle peppers, which offer sweetness and delicate fresh flavor, respectively. To prevent the vegetables from turning the eggs stringy and wet, we precook them to evaporate excess moisture, and we also keep the pipérade and the eggs separate until they hit the plate. Our Quinoa Pilaf with Herbs and Lemon uses an almost equal ratio of quinoa to water (about half that of other recipes) to ensure tender grains with a satisfying bite. We toast the quinoa in a dry skillet to develop its natural nutty flavor and finish our pilaf with fresh herbs and a splash of lemon juice.
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Dinner 3: Garlicky Shrimp Pasta and Arugula Salad
Game Plan: Start by marinating the shrimp (step 1). Meanwhile, prep the salad and the remaining shrimp ingredients. Cook the shrimp and pasta, tossing the salad right before serving.
Garlicky Shrimp Pasta features al dente pasta and moist shrimp bound by a rich sauce. To infuse the shrimp with deep garlic flavor and keep them juicy, we marinate them in a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. To build a complex sauce, we use bright, herbal vermouth and briny bottled clam broth. A little bit of flour in the sauce ensures that it clings to the shrimp and pasta. For our Arugula Salad with Pears, Almonds, Goat Cheese, and Dried Apricots, 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 greens. For the dressing, our surprise solution was to add a spoonful of jam, which adds fruity sweetness that pulls the flavors into line.