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: Grilled Lemon-Parsley Chicken Breasts and Sautéed Summer Squash
Game Plan: Start by prepping and marinating the chicken. While the chicken sits, prep the squash. Grill the chicken. While the chicken is resting, sauté the squash.
Our recipe for Grilled Lemon-Parsley Chicken Breasts produces moist, tender, vibrantly flavored chicken. We marinate the breasts for 30 minutes, then start them on the cooler side of the grill, covered, so they remain moist. To finish, we quickly sear them on the hot side of the grill. Sautéed Summer Squash with Mint and Pistachios doesn’t require any knifework: We simply use a vegetable peeler to shave the squash into thin strips that cook quickly. Sautéeing the squash in a single batch over moderately high heat allows the ribbons to become crisp-tender without browning, which would mask their fresh flavor and appearance.
Fruit/Vegetable PeelersWhy do some peelers skin produce with ease while others barely make the cut?
Dinner 2: Chana Masala and Basmati Rice Pilaf
Game Plan: Start by prepping and cooking the Chana Masala. Once the chickpeas have been added to the pot, start cooking the rice. The two dishes will finish at about the same time.
For our Chana Masala, we use the food processor to grind an aromatic paste that forms the base of the dish. We opt for canned chickpeas because their flavor and texture were nearly indistinguishable from those of chickpeas that are cooked from dried. A generous garnish of chopped onion, sliced chile, and cilantro add so much vibrancy, texture, and freshness that you'd never guess that most of the other ingredients in the recipe are from the pantry. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Next, we sizzle whole spices in butter before toasting the rice itself. Finally, we add water and then cook the rice over low heat before removing it from the heat and allowing it to steam.
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Dinner 3: Butter-Basted Fish Fillets and Roasted Mushrooms
Game Plan: Start by prepping and brining the mushrooms. While the mushroom brine, prep the ingredients for the fish. Since the fish needs constant attention while cooking, roast the mushrooms fully and cover them to keep warm while attending to the fish.
Butter-Basted Fish Fillets with Garlic and Thyme employs a technique that involves repeatedly spooning sizzling butter over food as it cooks. It’s great for mild, lean, flaky fish such as cod, haddock, or snapper. The butter helps cook the top of the fillet as the skillet heats the bottom, allowing you to flip the fish only once and early in the cooking process—before the flesh has become too fragile. Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts is a rich, woodsy side dish. We start by brining the mushrooms in a saltwater solution. We then roast them in the oven for about an hour until they are deeply browned. Finally, we coat the mushrooms in melted butter and lemon juice before adding flavorful mix-ins: Parmesan, parsley, and pine nuts.