Skip to main content

Dinner This Week: Pesto Calabrese

This week’s menus include Penne with Red Pepper Pesto, Sweet Potato Soup, and Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander for dinner in about an hour
By Published Oct. 26, 2022

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.

Jump to a Section

Dinner 1: Penne with Pesto Calabrese and Romaine and Watercress Salad

Game Plan: Prepare the red pepper pesto through step 3, using any unattended cooking time to prepare the salad ingredients. Cook and dress the pasta. Toss the salad right before serving. 

Pesto Calabrese trades the familiar basil–pine nut base of the Genovese style for ricotta, Parmesan, and a mix of sweet and hot peppers. A combination of cooked and raw red bell peppers give the pesto a complex fresh, fruity bite. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Apple and Kohlrabi combines crisp romaine lettuce with spicy, tender watercress. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and sweet apple combine cohesively with the salad greens and provide complexity.

Printable Shopping Lists: Penne with Pesto Calabrese and Romaine and Watercress Salad

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

Dinner 2: Sweet Potato Soup and Biscuits

Game Plan: Start by preheating the oven, then prep both recipes. Mix the biscuits and bake them. While biscuits are cooking, prepare the soup. Remove the biscuits from the oven, brush with them with butter, and keep them warm while the soup finishes.

For Sweet Potato Soup that actually tastes like sweet potatoes, we use only a minimal amount of flavor-diluting water. To do so, we let the sweet potatoes sit in hot water off heat for 20 minutes to make use of an enzyme that reduces their starch content. Less starch meant we could create a soup with less water, keeping the sweet potato flavor in the forefront. Easiest-Ever Biscuits combine the ease of cream biscuits (which eliminate the step of cutting cold fat into dry ingredients) with the ease of drop biscuits (which skip the rolling and cutting) to create the easiest biscuits ever. The key is to heat the cream to between 95 and 100 degrees, which melts the solid particles of butterfat dispersed throughout. This makes a dough that is moister and scoopable but that rises up instead of spreading out in the oven, producing biscuits that are appropriately rich and tender but not greasy.

Printable Shopping Lists: Sweet Potato Soup and Biscuits

Dinner 3: Sesame-Crusted Salmon and Sautéed Swiss Chard

Game Plan: Prep all of the ingredients for both dishes while the oven heats. Start cooking the salmon. Once the salmon has been transferred to the oven, sauté the chard.

For Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander, we brine the fillets to ensure that each piece is well seasoned and remains moist after cooking. We also brine and toast the sesame seeds to bring out their nuttiness. Finally, we use tahini paste combined with citrus juice to glue the sesame seeds to the fillets. The key to mastering Sautéed Swiss Chard with Ginger is getting the stems to finish cooking at the same time as the leaves. Sautéing the stems first over relatively high heat provides a desirable tender-crisp texture and a lightly caramelized flavor that acts as a foil to the tender leaves, which we cook very briefly to maintain their earthiness.

Printable Shopping Lists: Sesame-Crusted Salmon and Sautéed Swiss Chard

View more weeknight dinner ideas below, or check out all of the Dinner This Week menus.


0 Comments

Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.