I really shouldn’t perpetuate that kind of thinking, but if you are obsessed and there is no stopping you, then when you are planning on having a whole bunch of people at the table, and you worrying yourself sick about who likes what, here is what you do.
Build your menu around things that are really basic and non threatening, like chicken breasts and sausages. Not all gooped up into a casserole–because then you’re just going to get people digging around and making a mess of it with the spoon to find the bits they like–but all nice an separate, with everything on it’s own plate.
Throw the sausages into boiling water with a little red wine, a garlic clove and a bay leaf. Cook for fifteen minutes, then brown them off in a pan, right before you are ready to serve.
Drizzle some fine and fruity olive oil over chicken breasts that have their skin on and their bones in, season on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,and set in a baking dish. Scatter halved garlic cloves over them, wedges of lemon, and rosemary sprigs. Roast at 400 degrees uncovered, until they are just done, and no longer pink. Do not overcook.
The art is in the sides. It’s true that there will be a lot of dishes to do at the end of it, but what’s family for? A lot of dishes makes it look like a feast, and people can either take some of everything, or just a tiny little bit of chicken and then sit and talk about all their allergies to somebody other than you.
Make a carabonara of pan roasted, diced eggplant (dice everything pretty small so that it cooks faster), diced zucchini, diced red pepper, and onion and garlic. Cook each vegetable in the pan one type of vegetable at a time with a little bit of garlic and olive oil, and then stir them all together with fresh thyme sprigs, parsely, olives, and capers. Finish with a little balsamic and lemon.
Dice some tomatoes and stir them up salt, with baby mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
Roast some new potatoes tossed with salt and olive oil.
Make a warm carrot salad of barely boiled or steamed carrots (season the water with salt), olive oil, balsamic, a pinch of sugar, some red pepper flakes, and a splash of oj or lemon.
Slice up about four onions into a pan generously drizzled with olive oil, and stir them around with some salt and pepper added until they are golden. Add a few tablespoons of sherry vinegar or balsamic, and keep stirring, adding a few drops of water and keeping them over a low heat, until they are completely soft.
Serve a cheese board and tossed greens and pears with grapes when everyone is done with the first table, and then for dessert, well, forget dessert. Ask people to bring it. You will be doing enough.