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 Scallops with Panzanella
Game Plan: Start by toasting the bread and salting the tomatoes for the salad (steps 1 and 2). Dry the scallops (step 1). Light the grill, then prepare the salad dressing and the oil mixture for the scallops. Right before grilling the scallops, toss the bread with the dressing. Finish the salad (step 4) after the scallops are removed from the grill.
We look for untreated "dry" scallops for our Grilled Scallops to avoid the soapy flavor that affects "wet" scallops that have been treated with chemicals. To enhance browning and make flipping easier, we lightly coat the scallops with a slurry of vegetable oil, flour, cornstarch, and sugar and thread them onto a pair of metal skewers. Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella) benefits from the liquid exuded by the tomatoes, so we toss garden fresh tomatoes with salt and let them drain in a colander until they shed a good bit of juice. Using that juice in the dressing boosts its fresh flavor. Drying the bread in the oven until it turns golden brown gives our panzanella nutty depth. We allow the dressing to lightly saturate the bread before we stir in the tomatoes.
The Best Rimmed Baking SheetsA rimmed baking sheet is essential for sheet cakes and handy for cookies. But if yours is flimsy or you use it only for baking, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
Dinner 2: Stir-Fried Thai-Style Beef with Thai Sticky Rice
Game Plan: The rice for this pairing needs to soak for 4 to 8 hours, so start it in the morning. When you are ready to cook, begin by steaming the rice. As the rice steams, prep and cook the stir-fry. The two dishes will be done at about the same time.
Stir-Fried Thai-Style Beef starts with inexpensive blade steak, which offers tenderness and beefy flavor. A marinade of fish sauce, white pepper, citrusy coriander, and a little light brown sugar enhances the flavor of the meat before it is stir-fried with sliced shallot and chiles. Mint, cilantro, and chopped peanuts finish the dish with freshness and crunch. Traditionally, Thai Sticky Rice (Khao Niaw) is cooked in a bamboo basket set over an hourglass-shaped aluminum pot, which allows the rice to steam on all sides. We mimic that setup with a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh strainer set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
Plastic SpatulasJust a spatula? Sure, but it’s a tool you use every day. So having one that really works can be as important as having the right knife.
Dinner 3: Shredded Chicken Tacos and Sautéed Corn and Black Beans
Game Plan: Prep and start cooking the chicken. While the chicken simmers in step 3, prep the ingredients for the corn. While the chicken cooks in step 4, sauté the corn.
Shredded Chicken Tacos start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs simmered in a tomato-and-chipotle-based sauce. Fire-roasted tomatoes add a hint of smokiness, but regular canned diced tomatoes plus a pinch of smoked paprika will also work. The shredded chicken freezes well, so consider making a double batch. If fresh corn isn't available Sautéed Corn with Black Beans and Red Bell Pepper can be made with 1 pound of frozen corn that has been thawed and dried well on paper towels.