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: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage and Bibb Lettuce Salad
Game Plan: Bring water to a boil while prepping the pasta and salad ingredients. Prepare the pasta dish, tossing the salad right before serving.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage is a hearty, subtly spicy combination that might be the most identifiable dish of Italy's Puglia region. Rich Italian sausage mingles well with the bitterness of broccoli rabe and salty Pecorino Romano cheese. Our Bibb and Arugula Salad with Pear and Goat Cheese uses a combination of peppery arugula and buttery Bibb lettuce. Thin slices of subtly sweet pear incorporate easily with the greens. Pepitas add crunch, while tangy goat cheese contributes richness. We use lemon juice as the base of the dressing because it pairs well with the sweetness of the fruit.
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 2: Blackened Chicken and Romaine Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping the ingredients for the salad. Prep and cook the chicken. Toss the salad right before serving.
For our Blackened Chicken, we coat thin chicken cutlets in a robust Cajun spice blend and flash-cook them in a ripping-hot cast-iron skillet until the fat and spices smoke and char but don't completely burn. For robust spice flavor, we dredge the moist cutlets directly in the spice rub rather than “glue” it to the chicken with melted butter; this helped the spices stick to—rather than melt off—the meat during cooking. Adding smoked paprika to the spice mix enhanced its smoky profile. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Apple and Kohlrabi combines crisp romaine lettuce with spicy, tender watercress. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and sweet apple provide crunch and complexity.
The Best Cast-Iron SkilletsArtisan brands of American-made cast-iron cookware challenge the old guard.
Dinner 3: Moroccan Fish Tagine and Couscous
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes. Start cooking the tagine. Once the fish has been added to the pot in step 4, start cooking the couscous, keeping an eye on the fish as it cooks.
For a bright, flavorful Moroccan Fish Tagine, we start by salting chunks of cod to season the flesh and help it retain moisture. We coat the fish in chermoula, a flavorful herb-spice paste of cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil, just before cooking to season its exterior. To keep the fish from overcooking, we turn off the heat once the broth is bubbling at the bottom of the pot and allow the fish to cook in the residual heat. For Basic Couscous, we use the “pilaf method,” which allows the couscous to brown gently and uniformly, and cook up fluffy and separate. We bump up the flavor by using a combination of chicken broth and water.
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