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: Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Game Plan: Start by drying the beans (step 1) and preheating the oven. Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients for the burgers. Prepare the burger mixture and refrigerate it (step 3). While mixture rests, prep and start roasting the sweet potatoes. Once you flip the sweet potatoes over, shape and cook the burgers.
For great-tasting, cohesive Black Bean Burgers, we start by grinding tortilla chips in the food processor, then pulse the beans with the chips so the beans maintain some texture. Eggs and flour help to hold the burger mix together. To keep the preparation simple, we add no-cook seasonings including chili powder, cumin, garlic, cilantro, and scallions. Letting the mixture stand for an hour gives the starches time to soak up moisture from the egg, so the patties are easier to shape. For easy, no-splatter Sweet Potato Oven Fries, we cut unpeeled sweet potatoes into wedges and cook them on an oiled, preheated baking sheet until they are crisp on both sides.
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Dinner 2: Pasta e Ceci and Skillet-Roasted Broccoli
Game Plan: Start by preparing the pasta e ceci. While it simmers in step 2, prep the broccoli. Once the ditalini is tender, remove the pasta e ceci from the heat, and let it stand while you cook the broccoli.
Pasta e Ceci calls for cooking chickpeas and ditalini in the same pot so the starch released by the pasta creates a silky, stick-to-your-ribs texture. We build flavor by using a finely minced soffritto of onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and pancetta, an addition that gives the dish a meaty backbone. Anchovies, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese contribute even more depth. Skillet-Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Black Pepper Topping yields deeply browned broccoli with a nutty flavor and a hint of crisp texture. To make it quickly on the stovetop, we cut broccoli crowns into wedges to create flat sides that sit flush with the surface of the skillet. We then steam the broccoli initially to soften it before browning.
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Dinner 3: Chicken Tikka Masala and Basmati Rice
Game Plan: Start by seasoning the chicken for the tikka masala. 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 blend 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.