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: Stir-Fried Cumin Beef and Steamed White Rice
Game Plan: Prep and treat the flank steak. While the beef sits, prep the remaining stir-fry ingredients. Steam the rice. Once the rice is fully cooked, let it stand off heat while you cook the stir fry.
Stir-Fried Cumin Beef features tender pieces of meat stir-fried with onions and aromatics, lightly glossed in a soy sauce–based glaze, seasoned with spices, and finished with cilantro. We treat beef flank steak with baking soda, which raises the meat's pH so that it stays moist and tender during cooking. To prevent the meat from overcooking before it browns, we stir-fry it in two batches until its juices are reduced to a sticky fond that coats each slice. Steamed White Rice is soft enough to soak up savory sauces, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. Rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch and starting the rice in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
The Best WoksAfter years of preferring nonstick skillets to woks for making stir-fries, we decided to take a fresh look at this traditional pan.
Dinner 2: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Caesar Salad
Game Plan: Start by making the croutons and soaking the garlic paste in lemon juice for the salad dressing. Bring water to a boil while prepping the pasta ingredients and the remaining salad ingredients. Prepare the pasta dish, tossing the salad right before serving.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage is a hearty, subtly spicy pasta dish that might be the most identifiable dish of Italy's Puglia region. Rich Italian sausage mingles well with the bitterness of broccoli rabe and salty Pecorino Romano cheese. For heady— but not overpowering—garlic flavor in our Caesar Salad, we use a rasp-style grater to turn garlic cloves to a paste and then steep the paste in lemon juice to temper its bite. To emulsify the dressing, we beat egg yolks, anchovies, and Worcestershire sauce into the lemon juice and garlic and then slowly drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese. For tender-crisp croutons, we sprinkle cubes of ciabatta bread with a little water to preserve their moistness even after they are toasted.
The Best Paring KnivesFor precision cuts, call on the (cheap) little guy.
Dinner 3: Pan-Seared Salmon and Chopped Carrot Salad
Game Plan: Start by brining the salmon. Meanwhile, prep the salad ingredients, including processing the carrots. While the salmon rests in step 3, toss the salad.
For our Pan-Seared Salmon, we brine the fillets to season them and keep them moist as they cook. We then place the fish skin side down in a cold, dry, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. The skin protects the fish from drying out during cooking and releases fat that helps to brown and crisp the flesh side once the fillets are flipped. Chopped Carrot Salad with Celery and Raisins starts by finely chopping carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. This produces a delicately crunchy, light-textured base in just seconds. Crisp celery, sweet raisins, and plenty of parsley brighten things up and a lively dressing brings the salad together.