Presentation can go a long way when it comes to the overall enjoyment of a meal. The contrast of colors, array of ingredients, and how the various components are arranged and served can impact the anticipation going in, even before the first bite is consumed.
I have found with my own family, my kids in particular, the impact of the visual will often determine their excitement heading over to the table. Then, assuming the food tastes good, the meal is even that much more satisfying.
This time of year, as I enjoy most of my dinners outside, I like to serve meals family style.
This week I pulled out the serving platters and laid everything out on the dinner table for the family to enjoy as they pleased. Grilled chicken and sauteed garlicky green beans went on one platter, a homemade bruschetta forked onto toasted bread rounds on another, and as another side, a little gem Caesar salad topped with freshly sliced hass avocado and croutons. A nice row of peeled cucumber slices and tomato wedges freshly harvested from my garden accompanied an array of farmers market stone fruit as the final presentation.
This complete meal looked incredible on the table, and the family had no hesitation diving in.
FAMILY-STYLE GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SAUTEED GARLICKY GREEN BEANS
Sauteed Garlicky Green Beans
2 pounds green beans, stems discarded (cut in half if more than 6 inches long)
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (immersed in 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil)
In a large saute pan over high heat, add green beans and drizzle olive oil over the top. Toss well to fully coat. Season liberally with salt and continue to saute until almost done, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Serves about 6 sides
Grilled Chicken Thighs
8 chicken thighs (I used bone in and skin on)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 green onions, very finely chopped
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
Combine ingredients together and let marinate in a bowl in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator, 2-4 hours (minimum 1 hour). If you can cook over oak wood low and slow, it delivers the best flavor, but if using a gas grill, set to a low temperature (about 350-400 degrees) and cook on the top rack for about 1 hour. You can baste with excess marinade after about 30 minutes in. Serve on a platter with the sauteed garlicky green beans. Makes 8 pieces.