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: Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce and Warm Bitter Green Salad
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Make the sauce for the eggs (step 2), but wait to add the eggs. Prepare and plate the salad. Once the salad is complete, return the sauce for the eggs to a simmer and proceed with cooking the eggs (steps 3 and 4).
The North African dish Shakshuka makes a great meal any time—if you can get the eggs to cook properly. For eggs with runny yolks and tender whites, we add the eggs to the skillet off the heat, cook them in a smooth rather than chunky sauce for more even heat transfer, and cover the whites with sauce just after adding them to the pan to help speed their cooking. For the sauce, we blend whole peeled tomatoes and jarred roasted red peppers for a mix of sweetness, smokiness, and acidity. Bitter Greens, Carrot, and Chickpea Salad with Warm Lemon Dressing begins with a preheated Dutch oven to provide just the right amount of heat to wilt hearty bitter greens without actually cooking them. We start by sautéing carrots, raisins, and almonds in the pot and then pull the pot off the heat to let it cool slightly. When we add the greens, the warm mix-ins slightly soften the greens.
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Dinner 2: Shepherd’s Pie and Bibb and Frisée Salad
Game Plan: Toss the ground beef with the baking soda and start boiling the potatoes. Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients for the Shepherd’s Pie. While the pie bakes and cools (step 4), prep the salad ingredients. Toss the salad right before serving.
Our streamlined, skillet version of Shepherd’s Pie starts with lean ground beef rather than chunks of meat. To keep the beef tender, we treat it with baking soda, which raises its pH and keeps the proteins from bonding too tightly. To boost the flavor of the gravy, we sauté onions, mushrooms, and tomato paste in the skillet until quite dark, and then deglaze the pan with Madeira. Our Bibb and Frisée Salad with Grapes and Celery uses a combination of frilly, crunchy frisée and soft, buttery bibb lettuce. Thin slices of celery incorporate easily with the greens. Seedless red grapes add pops of juiciness and freshness, while blue cheese adds salty richness.
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Dinner 3: Broiled Chicken Thighs and Warm Farro
Game Plan: Start by boiling the farro. Once the farro has been transferred to the rimmed baking sheet to cool, start broiling the chicken. Prep the remaining ingredients for the farro dish while the chicken cooks. Finish cooking the farro dish (step 2) once the chicken is turned skin side up.
For moist, well-seasoned Simple Broiled Chicken Thighs, we brine the thighs for better flavor and texture. Slashing the skin a few times before broiling allows its fat to render, and cooking the chicken on the bottom rack of the oven keeps it moist and tender. Warm Farro with Cranberries, Pecans, and Herbs uses whole farro, in which the grain’s germ and bran have been retained, giving it a pleasant chewiness and a nutty flavor. After the grains are boiled and drained, we combine them with sautéed onions, tart dried cranberries, and fresh parsley.