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: Caldo Verde and Southern-Style Cornbread
Game Plan: Heat the oven and prep the ingredients for the soup. While the soup simmers in step 1, mix the cornbread batter. Bake the cornbread as the soup simmers in step 2. Finish the soup while the cornbread cools.
Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese soup of potatoes, greens (we like collards) and garlicky chorizo sausage. For a silky smooth, thick consistency, we puree a portion of the potatoes with olive oil and stir the mixture into the broth. A couple of teaspoons of white vinegar balances the richness of the rustic soup. Southern-Style Cornbread starts with making a cornmeal mush (moistening some of the cornmeal with some water) to produce a savory quick bread with a fine, moist crumb. Baking the cornbread in a cast-iron skillet produces a crisp, golden crust.
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Dinner 2: Braised Halibut with Fennel and Warm Farro with Lemon
Game Plan: Start by boiling the farro. As the farro cooks, prep the halibut ingredients. Once the farro is tender, it can be drained and held in a covered saucepan. While the fish is cooking in step 2, soften the onion for the farro. As the sauce for the fish reduces (step 3), finish the farro.
Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tarragon features moist, succulent fish; tender pieces of fennel; and a sauce with balanced flavor and just the right amount of brightness. We like halibut for its sweet, delicate taste and firm texture. Because the bottom of the fillets are submerged in liquid and will cook more quickly than the upper halves that cook via steam, we start by sautéing the fillets for a few minutes on just one side before we start braising. For Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs, we prefer whole farro, which has a pleasant chewiness and a nutty flavor. The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil the farro in salted water for about 20 minutes until tender. After the grains are drained, we combine them with sautéed onions, a copious amount of fresh herbs, and a sprinkling of lemon.
The Best 12-Inch Enameled Cast-Iron SkilletsCheap and tough, a cast-iron skillet is a kitchen workhorse, but the upkeep makes some cooks balk. Could enameled cast-iron pans, which need no special care, top the classic?
Dinner 3: Spinach Dal and Basmati Rice
Game Plan: Prep and start cooking the dal. Once the dal is simmering, cook the rice. As soon as the rice is removed from the heat to stand, complete the dal (steps 3 and 4).
Quick-cooking red lentils are the centerpiece of our weeknight Palak Dal. Once the lentils are softened, a vigorous whisk transforms them into a rustic, porridge-like stew without using a blender or food processor. Seasoning the lentils with a tadka (whole spices sizzled in ghee with aromatics) right before serving gives the dish loads of complexity, a gorgeous appearance, and an enticing aroma. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Next, we sizzle whole spices in butter before toasting the rice itself. Finally, we add water and then cook the rice over low heat before removing it from the heat and allowing it to steam.