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: Pan-Seared Salmon and Chopped Carrot Salad
Game Plan: Start by brining the salmon. Meanwhile, prep the salad ingredients, including processing the carrots. While the salmon rests in step 3, toss the salad.
For our Pan-Seared Salmon, we brine the fillets to season them and keep them moist as they cook. We then place the fish skin side down in a cold, dry, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. The skin protects the fish from drying out during cooking and releases fat that helps to brown and crisp the flesh side once the fillets are flipped. Chopped Carrot Salad with Celery and Raisins starts by finely chopping carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. This produces a delicately crunchy, light-textured base in just seconds. Crisp celery, sweet raisins, and plenty of parsley brighten things up and a lively dressing brings the salad together.
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Dinner 2: Thai Basil Chicken and Steamed White Rice
Game Plan: Prep the chicken through step 2. While the chicken sits, start cooking the rice. Once you cover the rice (step 3), stir-fry the chicken.
For Thai Basil Chicken, we start by infusing aromatics and basil into the cooking oil. Grinding the chicken in a food processor along with some fish sauce produces coarse-textured meat that retains moisture when it is stir-fried. A combination of oyster sauce and white vinegar adds a rich but bright flavor to the sauce. Steamed White Rice is soft enough to soak up savory sauces, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. Rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch and starting the rice in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
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Dinner 3: Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce and Warm Bitter Green Salad
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Make the sauce for the eggs (step 2), but wait to add the eggs. Prepare and plate the salad. Once the salad is complete, return the sauce for the eggs to a simmer and proceed with cooking the eggs (steps 3 and 4).
The North African dish Shakshuka makes a great meal any time—if you can get the eggs to cook properly. For eggs with runny yolks and tender whites, we add the eggs to the skillet off the heat, cook them in a smooth rather than chunky sauce for more even heat transfer, and cover the whites with sauce just after adding them to the pan to help speed their cooking. For the sauce, we blend whole peeled tomatoes and jarred roasted red peppers for a mix of sweetness, smokiness, and acidity. Bitter Greens, Carrot, and Chickpea Salad with Warm Lemon Dressing begins with a preheated Dutch oven to provide just the right amount of heat to wilt hearty bitter greens without actually cooking them. We start by sautéing carrots, raisins, and almonds in the pot and then pull the pot off the heat to let it cool slightly. When we add the greens, the warm mix-ins slightly soften the greens.