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: Salerno-Style Spaghetti with Bibb and Frisée Salad
Game Plan: Prep all of the ingredients for both dishes. Prepare the pasta dish. While the eggs cook in step 4, toss the salad.
Salerno-Style Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Bread Crumbs is a simple dish of garlicky spaghetti topped with a fried egg. We like the texture and richness that both the bread crumbs and egg add to the dish, but either one can be omitted (we don’t recommend omitting both, though). The components in Bibb and Frisée Salad with Grapes and Celery can be swapped out to use what you have in the fridge. Feel free to mix and match the lettuce variety, although we do suggest a mix of greens for the best flavor and texture. Other types of fruit, fresh or dried, can be substituted to add sweetness. And if you don’t like blue cheese, try adding crumbled goat cheese for some richness.
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Dinner 2: Garam Masala-Spiced Ground Beef with Carrot Salad
Game Plan: Completely prep the beef and then start cooking. Use any unattended cooking time to prep and make the carrot salad.
Keema (Garam Masala-Spiced Ground Beef) is a rich and savory spiced ground meat dish that's been a staple of South Asian cuisine for centuries. Our version features ground beef cooked with garam masala, or warming spice mix, comprising whole cinnamon and black and green cardamom as well as ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and Kashmiri chile powder. Chopped Carrot Salad with Mint, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Seeds starts by finely chopping carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. This produces a delicately crunchy, light-textured base in just seconds. Plenty of fresh mint, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pistachios brighten things up and a lively dressing brings the salad together.
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Dinner 3: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu and Charred Green Beans
Game Plan: Prep and microwave the green beans (step 2). Next, prep and cook the Mapo Tofu. Once the sauce is thickened at the end of 6, cover the pot and set it aside off heat while you char the green beans. Gently rewarm the Mapo Tofu before serving, if necessary.
Our Vegetarian Mapo Tofu is potent in flavor, with balanced spiciness. We start with cubed soft tofu and poach it gently in a mushroom broth to help the pieces stay intact in the braise. For the sauce, we use plenty of ginger and garlic along with four Sichuan pantry powerhouses: Asian broad bean chili paste (doubanjiang), fermented black beans, Sichuan chili powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. We finish with just the right amount of cornstarch to create a velvety consistency. Skillet-Charred Green Beans have a soft, appealingly dense, satisfying chew and concentrated flavor. To achieve those results, we first soften the beans by steaming them in the microwave. Then we char them in a skillet, without stirring, in a couple of tablespoons of hot oil. Once they are charred, we season them with a lemony salt-and-pepper mixture.