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: Swedish Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes
Game Plan: Start by cooking potatoes. As the potatoes simmer, prepare the meatballs through step 2. Once the potatoes have been mashed, cover them to keep warm, and finish cooking the meatballs (steps 3 and 4).
Our Swedish Meatballs boast a sausagelike springiness and satisfying snap. To achieve the right texture, we mix beef, pork, bread, cream together in a stand mixer along with a little baking powder, which keeps the meatballs delicate and juicy. For a light, creamy sauce, we add a bit of cream to chicken broth and brighten it up with a splash of lemon juice. Our Mashed Potatoes start with a high-starch russets. We cook the potatoes until they are just tender, but not falling apart. Finally, for a silky smooth texture, we use a food mill or potato ricer fitted with the finest disk to process the potatoes.
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: Herb-Crusted Salmon with Couscous Pilaf
Game Plan: Brine the salmon, using the brining time to prep the other ingredients for both dishes. Once the water has been added to the couscous, cook the salmon. Finish the couscous right before serving.
For Herb-Crusted Salmon, we layer delicate tarragon under a toasted panko crust to protect the fresh herb flavor that can be driven away while the fish cooks in the oven. The crust is bound with a couple of tablespoons of beaten egg to help it stay in place. A quick brine keeps the salmon fillets moist and ensures that they are perfectly seasoned. The additions to Couscous with Shallots, Garlic, and Almonds can be adjusted to suit what you have on hand. Half of a finely chopped onion can be used instead of the shallot. Other nuts can be substituted for the almonds and other tender herbs, such as basil, can be swapped for the parsley.
The Best SaucepansMost of us use a large saucepan daily, so it’s important to own one that performs flawlessly and will last for years. But how much does high quality have to cost?
Dinner 3: Pasta with Meatless “Meat” Sauce and Green Leaf and Radicchio Salad
Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both recipes. Start cooking the sauce. Once the tomatoes have been added (step 4), bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the chickpeas have been added to the sauce (step 5), boil the pasta while the sauce simmers for 15 minutes. Toss the salad right before serving.
Meatless “Meat” Sauce with Chickpeas and Mushrooms is a savory, unctuous sauce. Cremini mushrooms and tomato paste provide savoriness while chopped chickpeas add bulk and a meatlike texture. Extra-virgin olive oil, plus classic Italian aromatics—garlic, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes—round out the flavors. Our Green Leaf and Radicchio Salad with Grapefruit and Fennel combines soft, mineral-y green leaf lettuce with bitter, crunchy radicchio. Sweet, peppery grapefruit and grassy fennel both balance the bitterness of the radicchio and add brightness.