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: Cioppino with Romaine and Watercress Salad
Cioppino, a seafood soup popularized by Italian immigrants to San Francisco, starts with a quick base of lightly browned onions, canned tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and clam juice for added briny flavor. To ensure that the clams and mussels don’t break up the flaky halibut, we first poach the fillets in the tomato broth and then transfer them to a platter to keep warm while we steam the mollusks in white wine and butter. The two components are then combined into one flavorful stew before serving. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Apple and Kohlrabi combines crisp romaine lettuce with spicy, tender watercress. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and sweet apple combine cohesively with the salad greens and provide complexity.
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.
Dinner 2: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu and Charred Green Beans
Our Vegetarian Mapo Tofu is potent in flavor, with balanced spiciness. We start with cubed soft tofu and poach it gently in a mushroom broth to help the pieces stay intact in the braise. For the sauce, we use plenty of ginger and garlic along with four Sichuan pantry powerhouses: Asian broad bean chili paste (doubanjiang), fermented black beans, Sichuan chili powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. We finish with just the right amount of cornstarch to create a velvety consistency. Skillet-Charred Green Beans have a soft, appealingly dense, satisfying chew and concentrated flavor. To achieve those results, we first soften the beans by steaming them in the microwave. Then we char them in a skillet, without stirring, in a couple tablespoons of hot oil. Once they are charred, we season them with a lemony salt-and-pepper mixture.
The Best Kitchen TongsWhich pair offers the best precision and comfort?
Dinner 3: Pork Medallions and Roasted Butternut Squash
Our recipe for Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions starts with cutting tenderloins into 1½-inch-thick pieces and tying them to create neat cylindrical packages that can be easily seared on all sides. The searing process has the extra benefit of producing enough fond to create an easy, flavorful pan sauce. For Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple, we peel off not only the tough outer skin but also the fibrous layer of white flesh just beneath, ensuring supremely tender squash. To encourage the squash slices to caramelize, we roast them in a 425-degree oven on the lowest rack and use an extended baking time to evaporate the water in the slices. Melted butter instead of oil promotes the flavorful Maillard reaction. Finally, a topping of pecans and goat cheese add crunch and creaminess.