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: Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops and Cucumber-Dill Salad
Game Plan: Note: We recommend brining the chops, but if you are pressed for time you can skip step 1. Start by brining the chops and salting the cucumbers. With they stand, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Cook the chops. Mix the salad while the pork rests.
For Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops that bring the smoky, salty-sweet flavor of barbecued meat indoors, we use a spice rub to help the pork develop a substantial crust as it browns. Brushing the chops with sauce and returning them to the pan for a brief sear reduces the sauce to a sticky, smoky, caramelized glaze. Cucumber-Dill Salad starts by salting thin-sliced cucumbers to remove excess water. We then toss the slices with a lush, tangy yogurt-based dressing and lots of fresh dill.
ColandersA colander is just a bowl with holes, right? Chasing loose pasta around the sink may change your mind about that.
Dinner 2: Thai-Style Stir-Fried Noodles and Sautéed Baby Bok Choy
Game Plan: Prep the stir-fry through step 4 and complete step 1 for the bok choy. Cook the stir-fry. Once the noodles have been transferred to a serving dish, sauté the bok choy.
Thai-Style Stir-Fried Noodles with Chicken and Broccolini is our interpretation of Pad See Ew—the traditional Thai dish of chewy, lightly charred rice noodles, chicken, crisp broccoli, and moist egg, bound with a sweet and salty soy-based sauce. To achieve a light char on the noodles, we cook the components of the dish in small batches and eliminate much of the stirring while cooking. Sautéed Baby Bok Choy with Shallot and Fish Sauce calls for lightly steaming the vegetable to soften its stems before it is quickly sautéed. A mix of fish sauce, shallots, and garlic forms the base of a salty, aromatic sauce.
Best Garlic PressesSure, you can mince garlic with a knife, but a good garlic press makes the job faster and easier.
Dinner 3: Easy Salmon Cakes and Sautéed Peas with Fennel
Game Plan: Both recipes call for a 12-inch skillet. If you only have one traditional skillet, a nonstick or cast-iron skillet can be used to cook the salmon cakes. First, mix and shape the cakes. Next, start the pea recipe. Once the fennel is softened (step 1), fry the salmon cakes. While the cakes brown, finish the peas.
For our Easy Salmon Cakes with Smoked Salmon, Capers, and Dill, we turn to the food processor. Pulsing small pieces of salmon allows for more even chopping and results in small, discrete pieces of fish. We also ditch the somewhat messy egg and flour steps of the breading process. Instead, we simply coat the cakes with panko bread crumbs, which we also use to bind the fish mixture. Frozen peas have already been blanched, so the key to good Sautéed Peas with Fennel is to avoid overcooking. Just five minutes of simmering is all that is needed to produce bright, tender green peas. Switching from a saucepan to a skillet allows the peas to heat more quickly and evenly over the larger surface, further reducing the cooking time.