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: Steak Tips with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes with Scallions
Game Plan: Prep and marinate the steak tips and soak the dried porcini mushrooms (steps 1 and 2). While the steak sits, prep all of the remaining ingredients. Next, start simmering the potatoes and cook the steak tips through step 4. Finish the steak tips (step 5) after you mash the potatoes.
Our one-pan Steak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy calls for relatively inexpensive sirloin tips, which have lots of marbling for flavor and tenderness. We combine dried porcini mushrooms with deeply browned onions and white mushrooms for a rich sauce that is finished with sprinkles of minced garlic and woodsy thyme. Mashed Potatoes with Scallions and Horseradish start with rich, satisfying mashed potatoes made with just the right amounts of butter and half-and-half. We then jazz things up by adding two types of horseradish (fresh and prepared), along with fresh-tasting scallion greens.
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Dinner 2: Pan-Seared Swordfish and Sautéed Swiss Chard
Game Plan: Both recipes come together quickly, so prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. Start with the Swiss chard, undercooking it slightly. Next, wipe out the skillet and cook the swordfish. While the fish rests, wipe out the skillet and finish the Swiss chard, adding the lemon juice, salt, and pepper just before serving.
Mildly flavored swordfish steaks have a dense, meaty texture when seared quickly over high heat. We cook our Pan-Seared Swordfish in a hot skillet, flipping them frequently so that they heat from both the bottom up and the top down and acquire a golden-brown crust. To keep each bite juicy, we make sure to remove the steaks from the heat when they reach 130 degrees and let carryover cooking bring them up to the desired serving temperature of 140 degrees. The key to mastering Sautéed Swiss Chard is to get the stems to finish cooking at the same time as the leaves. Sautéing the stems first over relatively high heat provides a desirable tender-crisp texture and lightly caramelized flavor that acts as a foil to the tender leaves, which we cook very briefly in order to maintain their earthy flavor.
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Dinner 3: Penne Arrabbiata and Bibb and Frisée Salad
Game Plan: Prepare the pasta sauce through step 3. While the sauce simmers, prep the salad ingredients and bring the pasta water to a boil. Toss the salad right before serving.
For Penne Arrabbiata with complex flavor—not just searing heat—we look beyond the tradition of using only red pepper flakes and include three different types of pepper. By supplementing the pepper flakes with paprika and pickled pepperoncini, we build depth while keeping the spiciness in check. Our Bibb and Frisée Salad calls for a combination of frilly, crunchy frisée and soft, buttery Bibb lettuce. Thinly slicing the celery and apple allows them to combine cohesively with the salad greens. Toasted walnuts add crunch and nuttiness.