Even with the best-laid plans, cooking during these strange times can be a challenge. So we've put together three recipe pairings, each with an entree and a side, that call for ingredients you may already have on hand. But if you don't have a particular ingredient or the supermarket is out of stock, don't worry; we've also provided ideas for subsitutions.
Dinner 1: Sautéed Chicken Cutlets and Spinach Salad
Game Plan: Prep all of the ingredients for both dishes. Toss the salad while you sauté the second batch of cutlets.
Sautéed Chicken Cutlets are quick to cook, and because they are mild in flavor, many sauces pair nicely with them. Try them with Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce or with one of the pantry-based sauces listed below. Spinach Salad with Frisée and Strawberries calls for frilly frisée to break up the spinach leaves, but 4 or 5 cups of any type of green can be used. Tender bibb lettuce works well, as does crunchy romaine. Strawberries add sweetness and texture, but other types of fruit can be swapped in, including pear slices or orange segments.
Dinner 2: Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish and Toasted Orzo Pilaf
Game Plan: Start by making the bread crumbs for the fish. As the crumbs toast, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Bread the fish, but wait to start baking it. Put the fish in the oven while the orzo is toasting. Finish the orzo as the fish cooks.
Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish will work with most types of fish, but aim for fillets that are about 1 inch thick. For a simpler breading, the parsley and shallot can be omitted. The horseradish can also be left out, or try adding Dijon mustard instead. Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan uses a risotto-style cooking method to make a hearty side dish. If you don’t have orzo, Israeli couscous or another tiny pasta (sometimes called soup pasta) like acini di pepe, tubettini, or stellini will also work. Cooking times will vary, so check for doneness frequently.
Dinner 3: Italian Sausage with Grapes and Creamy Polenta
Game Plan: Start with the polenta. Once the cornmeal has been added to the water and the heat reduced, start preparing the sausage dish. By the time the polenta is fully cooked, the sausages should be ready to serve as well. If the sausages are done early, hold them in a covered skillet and rewarm before serving.
Italian Sausage with Grapes and Balsamic Vinegar is best with a sweet Italian sausage, but hot Italian or garlic sausage will also work. The grapes add sweetness to the sauce, but they can be omitted in a pinch. If you leave the grapes out, consider adding a little sugar to the sauce to make up for the lost sweetness. One-quarter teaspoon of dried oregano can be used instead of fresh. For our Creamy Parmesan Polenta, we add pinch of baking soda to the pot to cut the cooking time in half. We like a lot of Parmesan stirred into the polenta, but feel free to reduce the amount or try another hard cheese like Pecorino Romano or Asiago.