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: Sautéed Tilapia with Skillet-Roasted Carrots
Game Plan: This combination requires two 12-inch nonstick skillets. If you don’t have two, the carrots can be cooked in a traditional or carbon-steel skillet. Start by salting the fish. While the fish sits, make the bread crumbs for the carrots (step 1) and the butter for the fish (step 2). Start the carrots. Once the carrots are cooking uncovered (step 3), sauté the fish.
For Sautéed Tilapia with Chive-Lemon Miso Butter, we cook the fillets in a nonstick skillet over high heat to maximize flavorful browning without overcooking and drying out the fish. Dividing each fillet into a thick and a thin portion and sautéing them separately allows for more precise cooking and even browning. Finishing with a chive-lemon miso butter adds flavor and richness to this lean fish. Skillet-Roasted Carrots with Spicy Maple Bread Crumbs develop deep roasted flavor in a fraction of the time that it would take in the oven. To ensure even browning, we press the carrots gently against the bottom of the skillet as they cook. A sweet and spicy topping of panko bread crumbs, maple syrup, and cayenne provides a welcome crunch.
Fruit/Vegetable PeelersWhy do some peelers skin produce with ease while others barely make the cut?
Dinner 2: Avgolemono with Steamed Broccolini
Game Plan: Start the soup. As the chicken cooks in step 2, prep the broccolini. Finish making the soup (steps 3 and 4) and let it stand, covered, while you steam the broccolini.
Avgolemono, or Greek chicken and rice soup, gets its name from the egg-lemon mixture that thickens and flavors it. Our version contains tender shreds of chicken that are poached to perfection by sitting off the heat in hot broth. Processing eggs, yolks, and a portion of the cooked rice in a blender and then stirring this puree into the broth produces a velvety consistency. The tender florets of broccolini cook more quickly than its thicker stems, resulting in overcooked florets by the time the stalks become crisp-tender. For Pan-Steamed Broccolini with Garlic and Mustard, we solve this problem by splitting the thicker stems lengthwise so that they are the same size as the thinner ones, allowing for even cooking along the length of the vegetable.
Dinner 3: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu and Charred Green Beans
Game Plan: Prep and microwave the green beans (step 2). Next, prep and cook the Mapo Tofu. Once the sauce is thickened at the end of 6, cover the pot and set it aside off heat while you char the green beans. Gently rewarm the Mapo Tofu before serving, if necessary.
Our Vegetarian Mapo Tofu is potent in flavor, with balanced spiciness. We start with cubed soft tofu and poach it gently in a mushroom broth to help the pieces stay intact in the braise. For the sauce, we use plenty of ginger and garlic along with four Sichuan pantry powerhouses: Asian broad bean chili paste (doubanjiang), fermented black beans, Sichuan chili powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. We finish with just the right amount of cornstarch to create a velvety consistency. Skillet-Charred Green Beans have a soft, appealingly dense, satisfying chew and concentrated flavor. To achieve those results, we first soften the beans by steaming them in the microwave. Then we char them in a skillet, without stirring, in a couple of tablespoons of hot oil. Once they are charred, we season them with a lemony salt-and-pepper mixture.