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-Roasted Chicken and Barley Pilaf
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Sherry-Rosemary Sauce calls for browning the chicken in a skillet and finishing it in a hot oven. The result is moist and tender chicken with crisp skin. After cooking the chicken, we use the caramelized drippings, or fond, left in the pan to make a quick and flavorful sauce. Our Barley with Lemon and Herbs boasts grains with a tender chew that don’t clump together. We cook the barley like pasta—boiled in a large volume of salted water and then drained—to rid the grains of much of their sticky starch, which would otherwise cause them to clump. Once the barley is cooked, we let it cool briefly on a rimmed baking sheet to help it dry thoroughly and then toss it with an acid-heavy dressing (a 1:1 ratio of oil to acid instead of the typical 3:1 ratio).
The Best ColandersA colander is the go-to tool to use when draining pasta, but a good one can do so much more than that. Which model is best?
Dinner 2: Vegetable Curry and Basmati Rice
Toasting store-bought curry powder in a skillet for our Vegetable Curry turns it into a flavor powerhouse. In addition to the curry powder, a few pinches of garam masala add even more spice flavor. To build the rest of our flavor base, we start with a generous amount of golden sautéed onions and then add potent aromatics like garlic, ginger, and fresh chiles before incorporating cauliflower, peas, and chickpeas. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we sizzle whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final step of steaming ensures a dry, fluffy texture.
The Best Dutch OvensA Dutch oven is an essential investment for serious cooks. We find the best options at every price and in every size.
Dinner 3: Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Our Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup is velvety smooth with a bright tomatoey taste—all without added cream. We start with canned tomatoes because they often have better flavor than supermarket tomatoes. Then, we blend in a surprise ingredient—a slice of white bread torn into pieces—to give the soup body without having to add flavor-deadening cream. Our Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Comte and Cornichon start with flavorful aged Comte to which we add small amounts of white wine and Brie. These ingredients help the aged cheese melt evenly without becoming greasy. A sprinkle of chopped cornichon increases the sandwiches’ complexity without detracting from the cheese, and a smear of mustard butter livens up the bread.