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Weeknight Cooking

Dinner This Week: Penne Arrabbiata

This week’s menus include Penne Arrabbiata, Turkey Meatballs with Soy and Sesame, and Curry with Potatoes, Cauliflower, Peas, and Chickpeas for dinner in about an hour.
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Published Oct. 1, 2021.

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.

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Dinner 1: Penne Arrabbiata and Bibb and Frisée Salad

Game Plan: Prepare the pasta sauce through step 3. While the sauce simmers, prep the salad ingredients and bring the pasta water to a boil. Toss the salad right before serving.

For Penne Arrabbiata with complex flavor—not just searing heat—we look beyond the tradition of using only red pepper flakes and include three different types of pepper. By supplementing the pepper flakes with paprika and pickled pepperoncini, we build depth while keeping the spiciness in check. Our Bibb and Frisée Salad calls for a combination of frilly, crunchy frisée and soft, buttery Bibb lettuce. Thinly slicing the celery and apple allows them to combine cohesively with the salad greens. Toasted walnuts add crunch and nuttiness. 

Printable Shopping Lists: Penne Arrabbiata and Bibb and Frisée Salad

Equipment Review

Salad Spinners

Which salad spinner model can wash and dry your greens without wearing you out?
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Dinner 2: Turkey Meatballs and Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Game Plan: Prep, mix, and shape the meatballs (steps 1 and 2). While the meatballs rest, prep the bok choy ingredients. Cook the meatballs. Stir-fry the bok choy about 5 minutes before the meatballs are done.

Thanks to a couple of test kitchen tricks, our Turkey Meatballs with Soy and Sesame rival those made with beef or pork. We start with 93 or 85 percent lean turkey and add an egg and fresh bread crumbs to create a cohesive mixture. We also stir in a small amount of unflavored gelatin, which traps moisture and gives the meatballs a juicy mouthfeel. To boost meaty flavor, we add glutamate-rich Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and soy sauce. For crisp-tender Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Ginger, we separate the leaves and stalks and cook them separately. Small amounts of soy sauce and fresh ginger accent the bok choy’s fresh, vegetal flavor without overwhelming it.

Printable Shopping Lists: Turkey Meatballs and Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Equipment Review

The Best Rice Cookers

With so many options on the market, which one is best? We cooked 50 batches of rice to find out.
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Dinner 3: Vegetable Curry and Basmati Rice Pilaf

Game Plan: Prep all the ingredients for both dishes. Start cooking the rice. Once the rice is covered, make the curry. It’s okay if the rice stands longer than 10 minutes while the curry finishes—it will stay warm in the saucepan.

Toasting store-bought curry powder in a skillet for our Vegetable Curry turns it into a flavor powerhouse. In addition to the curry powder, a few pinches of garam masala add even more spice flavor. To build the rest of our flavor base, we start with a generous amount of golden sautéed onions plus potent aromatics like garlic, ginger, and fresh chiles. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we sizzle whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final step of steaming ensures a dry, fluffy texture.

Printable Shopping ListsVegetable Curry and Basmati Rice Pilaf


To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.

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