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: Spice-Rubbed Snapper and Coconut Rice
Game Plan: Start by salting the fish (step 1). While the fish sits, cook the rice, using the covered cooking time to prep the spice rub. Once the rice has been removed from the heat, broil the fish.
Broiled Spice-Rubbed Snapper is an easy, yet flavorful, way to cook fish. To maximize the flavor of the spice rub, 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 under the broiler, brings out the oil-soluble flavors. Arroz Con Titoté (Colombian Coconut Rice) is similar to a classic pilaf, but it uses coconut oil rather than olive oil. We boil pure coconut milk until the water evaporates, leaving the fat behind. After browning the particles of coconut, we add the rice and just enough water to hydrate and gel the starches in the rice ensured that the cooked grains would be light and fluffy. We finish with a spritz of lime juice.
The Best Large SaucepansMost of us use a large saucepan daily, so it’s important to own one that performs flawlessly and will last for years. But how much does high quality have to cost?
Dinner 2: Pasta with Beans and Romaine and Watercress Salad
Game Plan: Prep the pasta ingredients and start cooking, using any unattended time to prep the salad. Finish the pasta and toss the salad right before serving.
Pasta with Beans, Chard, and Rosemary provides a great combination of flavors and textures. In addition to the usual creamy cannellini beans, we add pinto beans for meatiness, while Swiss chard provides an appealing twofer for the greens component. We sauté the chopped chard stems at the outset of cooking but wait until the end to sprinkle the tender leaves on top, and then we cover the pot and let the leaves steam gently off heat. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Asparagus and Prosciutto can be adapted to use what you have on hand. We like the mix of crisp romaine and spicy watercress, but feel free to try different combinations of greens. Crisp bacon can be used instead of prosciutto, and almonds can stand in for the pine nuts.
Broiler-Safe 13 by 9-Inch Baking DishesSince our favorite 13 by 9-inch Pyrex dish can’t go under the broiler, we looked for one that could.
Dinner 3: Cheesy Nachos and Chicken Fingers
Game Plan: Prep and cook all of the components for the nachos and assemble them in the baking dish, but wait to bake them. Next, prep the chicken and bread it. As you pan-fry the chicken, place the nachos in the oven to bake. Use a toaster oven (if you have one) to keep the first batch of chicken warm.
Here's a game day pairing that can be on the coffee table in less than an hour. To ensure that the tortilla chips in our Cheesy Nachos with Spicy Beef are cheesy and spicy, we layer them with a full pound of shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeños. In addition to quick homemade salsa and guacamole, we top the nachos with a quick-to-make spiced ground beef mixture to make them more substantial. For from-scratch Breaded Chicken Fingers, we use 6-ounce breasts and cut them on the diagonal into ¾-inch strips to yield the most consistently sized pieces. Japanese panko bread crumbs generate a crust with a toasty, wheaty flavor and shatteringly crisp texture.