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: Garlicky Spaghetti and Steamed Broccolini
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes, including cutting the broccolini. Toast the garlic for the pasta (step 1) while the water comes to a boil. Start cooking the pasta. While the pasta is boiling, steam the broccolini. Keep the broccolini warm while finishing the pasta.
The key to our Garlicky Spaghetti with Artichokes and Hazelnuts is to make the most of the garlic. We toast 2 tablespoons of minced garlic over low heat in ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil to ensure that it cooks to a pale golden brown (any darker and its flavor becomes bitter and harsh). We then add 1/2 teaspoon of raw minced garlic near the end of cooking to take advantage of garlic’s dual personality—buttery sweet when toasted and fiery when raw. For Pan-Steamed Broccolini with Lemon and Capers, we split the thicker stems lengthwise so that they are the same size as the thinner ones, allowing for even cooking along the length of the vegetable.
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Dinner 2: Sautéed Tilapia and Brussels Sprout Salad
Game Plan: Start by prepping step 1 for both dishes, then prep the remaining ingredients for both dishes. Make the salad and transfer it to a serving platter. Once the salad is done, cook the fish.
For Sautéed Tilapia with Cilantro Chimichurri, we cook the fillets in a nonstick skillet over high heat to maximize flavorful browning without overcooking and drying out the fish. Dividing each fillet into a thick and a thin portion and sautéing them separately allows for more precise cooking and even browning. Finishing with a cilantro chimichurri adds flavor and richness to this lean fish. Our Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Browned Butter Vinaigrette uses a warm vinaigrette to gently tenderize the shredded sprouts while allowing them to retain their fresh, mustardy taste. Manchego cheese, chopped toasted hazelnuts, and baby arugula add richness, flavor, and peppery zing.
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Dinner 3: Beef Tacos and Mexican Rice
Game Plan: Start by preparing the rice through step 3. Once the rice has been transferred to the oven, make the taco filling and prep the taco toppings. The finished rice can stand, covered, if it's done before the tacos.
Our Beef Tacos feature a boldly spiced ground beef filling and fresh toppings. For the filling, we start by sautéing onions and garlic, then we add plenty of warm spices including chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Using lean ground beef prevents greasiness, and adding tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar creates roundness and depth. Mexican Rice is a flavorful pilaf-style dish with tender rice infused with tomatoes, chiles, and onion. To keep the rice grains distinct, we rinse them of excess starch before cooking. Equal portions of chicken broth and fresh tomatoes are ideal for a savory liquid base. To further enhance the flavor, color, and texture, we also add a little tomato paste.
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