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: Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish and Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas
Game Plan: Start by prepping the fish and putting the breaded fillets into the oven. As the fish cooks, you will have plenty of time to prep and sauté the snap peas. Instead of buying two lemons for this combination, cut the lemon that was zested for the snap peas into wedges to serve with the fish.
For our Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish, we aim to put the crunch (and flavor) back into oven-frying. We use thick cod or haddock fillets so that the fish and coating finish cooking at the same time. To boost the flavor, we add shallots and parsley to the breading and horseradish, cayenne, and paprika to the egg wash for the fish. To guarantee that our Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Fennel, and Lemon Zest cook evenly, we use a hybrid method of steaming the peas briefly before sautéing them; the trapped steam transfers heat more efficiently than air does so that the peas cook through more quickly. Cutting the peas in half further reduces the cooking time, so the pods retain more of their snap, and the pockets capture the seasonings rather than letting them slide to the bottom of the platter.
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Dinner 2: 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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Dinner 3: Pasta with Cauliflower and Green Leaf and Radicchio Salad
Game Plan: Start by roasting the garlic for the pasta. Meanwhile, prep the remaining pasta ingredients and the components for the salad. Once the pasta dish is complete, rewhisk the dressing to combine, and toss the salad.
For Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic, and Walnuts, we roast cauliflower florets to bring out their sweet, complex flavor. This dish is best with short, molded pasta shapes such as fusilli, campanelle, or orecchiette. 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.