One of the most important things to remember when cooking dinner for a group is that temperature and timing are everything.
If you can time things correctly, all your hot dishes will still be hot when the time comes to eat. Often, that means starting proteins long before veggies, but knowing the resting time needed between pulling the meat and serving the veg is super vital.
While the dads manned the grill, my mom put cauliflower in the oven to roast, starting the process about 35 minutes before we were going to begin dinner. She seasoned it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted at 350F. Allowing the natural sweetness of farm-fresh cauliflower to manifest without additional seasoning, she kept this side dish clean and simple.
Magneto and I cut up squash that we’d bought at a roadside farm stand on our way up, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, we emulated my mom’s method and roasted the squash for about 25 minutes next to her cauliflower.
We also set some water to boil, seasoned it liberally, and dropped some corn in. When it was done, Magneto seasoned it with salt and garlic powder to add a savory note to the sweet corn.
Since all of that could be left to cook while we waited for the meats to be done, we gave ourselves plenty of time to clean up and still have a great time hanging out with the family.
Cooking for a crowd can be daunting, especially when there are future in-laws involved, but choosing dishes that require little maintenance is one of my favorite tricks.