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 Pork Tenderloin and Watermelon Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping the pork (steps 1 and 2). While the pork stands, prep the salad ingredients, but wait to combine them. Start heating your grill once the pork has marinated for 20 minutes. Toss the salad while the cooked pork rests in step 4.
Garlic-Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks relies on honey for browning and fish sauce for added meatiness. Feel free to use lemon juice instead of lime juice. Basil or parsley can be used in place of the cilantro. Watermelon Salad with Cotija and Serrano Chiles makes a light and refreshing accompaniment to the pork. Jalapeños can be substituted for the serranos, or simply omit them for a milder salad. If cotija is unavailable, try feta instead.
Charcoal GrillsWe’ve happily made do with Weber’s basic kettle for years. But would newer, more tricked-out charcoal cookers be worth the upgrade?
Dinner 2: Oven-Steamed Mussels and Herbed Garlic Bread
Game Plan: Both recipes call for a 500-degree oven. To accommodate a roasting pan on the lower rack, you may need to raise the rack for the garlic bread to the upper-middle position. Prepare the mussels and make the garlic butter while the oven heats. Cook the mussels for 10 minutes and then put the bread in the oven. This way, you can finish the mussels (step 2) while the bread toasts. Instead of parsley, try garnishing the mussels with the herbs that are in the garlic bread: I suggest 1 tablespoon each of chives and basil, plus 1 teaspoon of oregano.
Cooking enough mussels to serve 4 on the stovetop often leads to inconsistently cooked or overcooked shellfish. To ensure perfection, we move our mussels to the gentle, enveloping heat of the oven in a large roasting pan so they aren’t too crowded. We pair the Oven-Steamed Mussels with Herbed Garlic Bread that's great for sopping up the mussels’ flavorful broth. We start by toasting a generous amount of whole garlic cloves to mellow any harshness and highlight their rich, sweet, nutty flavor. Then, we add a small amount of cheese and four different herbs for depth and complexity.
Roasting Pans with RacksWe went looking for a model that we’d want to use all the time, not just twice a year.
Dinner 3: Pasta All'Amatriciana and Bibb and Arugula Salad
Game Plan: Prep all of the ingredients for both dishes. Prepare the pasta dish, then toss the salad right before serving.
Pasta All'Amatriciana uses salt pork as the flavorful base of the sauce, but pancetta can be also used. Pecorino Romano is traditional in this dish, but grated Parmesan will work in a pinch. Bibb and Arugula Salad with Pear and Goat Cheese can be adapted to suit what you have on hand. The pears, goat cheese, and pepitas can all be swapped out for similar ingredients that add sweetness, richness, and crunch.