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: Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by braising the sweet potatoes. While potatoes simmer, prep and cook the pork. Once potatoes are mashed, cover them so they stay warm while you glaze the pork.
Our Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin recipe employs a stovetop-to-oven method that yields a well-browned crust and a succulent, tender interior. For a maple glaze that will adhere to the meat, we have several tricks. First, we mix the syrup with molasses and mustard to create a thicker glaze. Second, we coat the tenderloin with cornstarch so the glaze will bond to it. Third, we add a second coat of glaze when the meat is nearly done. To keep our Mashed Sweet Potatoes from becoming thin and watery, we braise the sliced potatoes in small amounts of heavy cream and butter. This provides just enough moisture to yield a silky puree while adding a hint of richness.
Measuring SpoonsSmall design elements make a big difference.
Dinner 2: Broiled Spice-Rubbed Snapper and Quinoa Pilaf
Game Plan: Start by salting the fish. While the fish stands, toast the quinoa and then cook the pilaf. As the pilaf simmers, mix the spice paste for the fish, but don't broil it until the quinoa is fully cooked.
To maximize the flavor of the spices in Broiled Spice-Rubbed Snapper, we hydrate ancho chile powder, ground coriander, granulated garlic, dried oregano, and cayenne and black peppers in a couple tablespoons of boiling water to bring out their water-soluble flavors. Then we add oil, which, when heated, blooms the oil-soluble flavors. To develop nuttiness in our Quinoa Pilaf with Chipotle, Queso Fresco, and Peanuts, we toast the grains in a dry skillet before adding liquid. We then season the pilaf with boldly flavored chipotle chiles and cumin.
Large Liquid Measuring CupsLarge-volume liquid measuring cups are handy for bigger jobs. Which ones are best and when should you use them?
Dinner 3: Garlicky Spaghetti and Kale Caesar Salad
Game Plan: Start by giving the kale leaves a 10-minute soak in warm water (step 1). Meanwhile, prepare the dressing and start cooking the croutons (steps 2 and 3). Once the kale is dried and dressed, set it aside while preparing the spaghetti. For the spaghetti, toast the garlic while the pasta water is coming to a boil.
The key to our Garlicky Spaghetti with Capers and Currants is to make the most of the garlic. We toast 2 tablespoons of minced garlic over low heat in ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil to ensure that it cooks to a pale golden brown (any darker and its flavor becomes bitter and harsh). We then add 1/2 teaspoon of raw minced garlic near the end of cooking to take advantage of garlic’s dual personality—buttery sweet when toasted and fiery when raw. For the Kale Caesar Salad, we give the leaves a 10-minute soak in warm water, which slightly breaks down the fibrous cell walls and helps to tenderize the chewy green. A 20-minute rest after tossing the kale with dressing further softens the greens and helps the flavors blend.