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: Grilled Salmon and Cucumber-Dill Salad
Game Plan: Start by salting the cucumbers. While the cucumbers sit, dry the salmon fillets, preheat the grill, and make the salad dressing. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing while the salmon is on the grill.
The biggest challenge in perfecting Grilled Salmon Fillets was figuring out how to remove the fillets from the grill in one piece. To prevent sticking, we clean the grill really well and then coat it with five to 10 layers of oil to build up a thick layer of polymers that prevent the protein in the fish from bonding with the grill grates. For a bright, creamy, refreshing Cucumber-Dill Salad, we start by salting thin-sliced cucumbers to remove excess water. We then toss them with a lush, tangy yogurt-based dressing and loads 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: Crisp Chicken Cutlets and Cherry Tomato Salad
Game Plan: Start by salting the tomatoes. While they stand, prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Bread the chicken. While the breaded chicken stands, reduce the tomato liquid. Cook the chicken, then toss the salad right before serving.
Crisp Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Garlic and Oregano start with pounding chicken breasts to a 1/2-inch thickness for even cooking. Seasoning the chicken, instead of the breading, guarantees that the meat will be full-flavored. Adding fresh oregano and minced garlic to the beaten eggs rather than the bread crumbs ensures that they won’t burn while frying. For a Cherry Tomato and Watermelon Salad that wasn’t soggy, we quartered, salted, and drained the tomatoes before whirling them in a salad spinner to separate the seeds and jelly from the flesh. After we strained and discarded the seeds, we reduced the jelly to a flavorful concentrate, reuniting it with the tomatoes, minus the excess liquid.
Cutting BoardsWe thought we’d picked a winner—until our favorite board warped after just a few years. This time we upped the ante: three months of test kitchen boot camp.
Dinner 3: Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Napa Cabbage Slaw
Game Plan: Start by putting the rice on to boil. While the rice cooks, prep the remaining ingredients for the fried rice and slaw. Once the rice is drained, mix the slaw and let it sit while you prepare the fried rice.
For our Fried Brown Rice with Pork and Shrimp, brown rice stands in for the more conventional white rice. The bran layer keeps the grains from clumping, so we can use freshly cooked rice instead of using leftovers as you would for white rice. Additionally, the bran acts as a nonstick coating on each grain, so brown rice requires far less oil in the frying stage. Napa Cabbage Slaw offers a more tender, delicate texture and a sweeter flavor than traditional green cabbage slaw. To avoid a bland, watered-down slaw, we make a potent dressing with a high ratio of vinegar to oil. After tossing the cabbage with the dressing and letting it sit for about 5 minutes, moisture from the cabbage dilutes the dressing slightly, so the slaw reaches the perfect level of bright acidity.