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 Lamb-Stuffed Pitas and Parsley-Cucumber Salad
Game Plan: Make the sauce and assemble the sandwiches (steps 1 and 2). Heat the grill. While the grill heats, prep the salad ingredients. Grill the sandwiches, tossing the salad right before serving.
Seasoned with herbs and warm spices, pressed between pita rounds, and grilled, these Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pitas with Yogurt Sauce inspired by Middle Eastern arayes offer a flavorful, juicy, street food–style alternative to the everyday burger. As the sandwiches cook, the lamb releases fat and juices into the bread to help it crisp, providing contrast to the texture of the filling. Our Parsley-Cucumber Salad with Feta, Pomegranate, and Walnuts is a crisp, refreshing accompaniment to the rich grilled sandwiches. Pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds give it a bright, tart flavor while chopped walnuts and feta cheese lend richness.
The Best GratersWant the best grater? Look for the stamp of approval.
Dinner 2: Pan-Seared Salmon and Couscous with Carrots, Raisins, and Pine Nuts
Game Plan: Start by brining the salmon. As the salmon brines, prep the ingredients for the couscous. Once the couscous has been removed from the heat to steam, start searing the salmon. Finish the couscous and keep it warm as the salmon finishes cooking.
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. Couscous with Carrots, Raisins, and Pine Nuts calls for the pilaf method to keep the grains of pasta fluffy and separate: We first brown the couscous in butter, then add liquid, cover the pot, and let it stand until the grains are tender. We bump up the flavor and add textural contrast with sweet raisins and rich pine nuts.
The Best Slotted SpoonsWe rounded up eight dishwasher-safe nylon, silicone, and stainless-steel spoons, and used them to fish out green peas, poached eggs, meatballs, and jumbo shrimp from liquids in different kinds of cookware.
Dinner 3: Spaghetti Carbonara and Insalata Mista
Game Plan: Prep all the ingredients for the salad, but wait to toss it. Make the Carbonara. As the pasta rests at the end of step 3, rewhisk the dressing and toss the salad.
For our Spaghetti Carbonara, we reduce the usual amount of water used to boil the pasta by half. This gives us a concentrated starchy liquid to use in the sauce. The extra starch coats the proteins and fats in the cheese and prevents them from separating or clumping together. The starch also works in concert with the egg white proteins to lend viscosity. Egg yolks introduce a pleasant custardy richness. Insalta Mista uses a mix of mild lettuces along with smaller amounts of spicy greens (watercress and arugula) and bitter greens (radicchio and endive). For color and textural contrast, we add grated carrot and slices of cucumber and red onion. In the dressing, we use two types of vinegar: Red wine provides assertive acidity while balsamic vinegar brings sweet, caramel-like notes.