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: Chicken Tikka Masala and Basmati Rice Pilaf
Game Plan: For the Tikka Masala, start by seasoning the chicken. While the chicken sits, prep the sauce ingredients and start to simmer the sauce. Once the sauce is underway, make the rice. It’s okay if the rice stands longer than 10 minutes while the chicken finishes—it will stay warm in the saucepan.
To keep the chicken in our Chicken Tikka Masala moist, we rub large chunks of breast meat with a mixture of salt, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and let them sit for 30 minutes. We then dip the pieces in a yogurt mixture and broil them to replicate the charred flavors of tandoori chicken. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we toast whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final step of steaming ensures a dry, fluffy texture.
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Dinner 2: Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish with Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas
With our Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish, we aim to put the crunch (and flavor) back into oven-frying. We use thick cod or haddock fillets so that the fish and coating finish cooking at the same time. Precooking the crumbs in a little butter also ensures we wouldn’t have to overcook the fish to get really crunchy crumbs. To boost the flavor, we add shallots and parsley to the breading and horseradish, cayenne, and paprika to the egg wash for the fish. To guarantee that our Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Fennel, and Lemon Zest cook evenly, we use a hybrid method of steaming the sugar snap peas briefly before sautéing them; the trapped steam transfers heat more efficiently than air does so that the peas cook through more quickly. Cutting the peas in half further reduces the cooking time, so the pods retain more of their snap, and the pockets capture the seasonings rather than letting them slide to the bottom of the platter.
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Dinner 3: Turkey Meatloaf with Sautéed Green Beans
Substituting store-bought ground turkey for beef can lead to a dense, mushy Turkey Meatloaf with Ketchup-Brown Sugar Glaze. 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 with Garlic and Herbs 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.