Dinner Kit
Couple cooking
The Couple That Cooks Together:
Alison Kalis & Amani Willett
The Challenge: Alison and Amani like to eat dinner together and look forward to entertaining friends. But as novice cooks, they are only starting to build up a repertoire of dishes and cooking techniques that can accommodate both their tastes: "He wants meat and I want seafood, so we usually end up alternating, but not in very imaginative ways," says Alison, whose work schedule limits them to a big supermarket expedition every two weeks, supplemented by an occasional dash to the corner store. Even with such spontaneously planned meals, she says, "we both think about healthy food." The couple has taken cooking classes, and Amani occasionally gets coaching from his father, Walter Willett, MD, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Because Amani was born in Tanzania and traveled around the world with his family, and Alison's mother is Thai, they're open to a variety of flavors and cooking styles.

The Strategy: If Amani helped with the shopping in between the big trips, they could both benefit from meals made with more fresh fruits and vegetables. Because the two are beginner cooks, they should think about dishes that incorporate basic techniques—like grilling, which is quick, simple, and works for meat or seafood, and high-heat roasting, which they can do in bulk on the weekend with any in-season vegetable. A recipe like grilled shrimp with mango salsa is a good starting point: It can be served hot or cold and is good for company, yet it's simple enough to make on nights when they're alone. A side dish of a roasted vegetable salad or basmati rice needs little attention in the kitchen. Amani and Alison can use the leftovers to doctor up a pot of store-bought squash soup later in the week. "The recipes were easy to follow," says Amani after making the shrimp at home. "I can't wait to impress our guests."

Mango shrimp and vegetablesThe Recipes

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Salsa
Warm Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad
Basmati Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts