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-Seared Shrimp and Sautéed Snow Peas
Game Plan: You will need two skillets for this pairing. Start by salting the shrimp. While they stand, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Sear the shrimp. As the shrimp stand off heat, sauté the snow peas.
To keep Pan-Seared Shrimp with Peanuts, Black Pepper, and Lime from overcooking, we start them in a cold skillet and heat them gradually so they don’t buckle and thus brown uniformly. Once the shrimp are spotty brown and pink at the edges on the first side, we remove them from the heat and quickly turn each one, letting residual heat gently cook them the rest of the way. Adding a little sugar to Sautéed Snow Peas with Garlic, Cumin, and Cilantro helps to bump up the peas' natural flavor. To keep the pods crisp, we limit the cooking time: Two minutes is enough heat for most peas. Final punches of flavor come from lime juice, lime zest, and fresh cilantro.
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Dinner 2: Pasta e Fagioli and Roasted Broccoli
Game Plan: Prep and cook the soup, using any unattended cooking time to prep the broccoli. Once the pasta has been added to the soup, start roasting the broccoli.
To build complexity in a short amount of time in Pasta e Fagioli, we looked for some quick flavor boosters. Adding the tomatoes and beans together allows them to absorb flavor from each other; a combination of chicken broth and water creates richness without turning the dish into chicken soup; a Parmesan rind gives depth; and a finish of parsley and minced anchovies lends a bright final note. We pair the soup with Roasted Broccoli that boasts a concentrated nutty sweetness and dappled brown exterior. To maximize contact with the baking sheet, which promotes even cooking and browning, we cut the crown into large wedges and slice the stalks into long rectangular pieces.
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Dinner 3: Indoor Pulled Chicken and Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw
Game Plan: Whisk together the dressing for the coleslaw and place it in the freezer. Next, start the chicken. While the chicken braises, prep the remaining slaw ingredients and microwave the cabbage. Refrigerate the slaw while you finish the chicken.
Indoor Pulled Chicken mimics the flavor and texture of outdoor slow-smoked pulled chicken in a fraction of the time. We braise boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a mixture of chicken broth, salt, sugar, molasses, gelatin, and liquid smoke, then shred the meat and mix it with a tangy barbecue sauce. To keep coleslaw crisp, you need to get rid of the cabbage’s excess water. For our Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw, we do this by microwaving shredded cabbage tossed with salt and sugar. In seconds, the cabbage sheds the same amount of liquid that it would release in 3 hours at room temperature. Cooling down the cabbage is easy: We simply chill the dressing in the freezer and then refrigerate the finished slaw for a few minutes.