Dishes to Wow Your Book Club
Remember: it's book club, not gourmet club. Serve the group a simple and delicious meal, let the wine flow—and they'll want to have every meeting at your house.
The Pasta Everyone Can Agree On
Italian-American cookbook author Lidia Bastianich, who's accustomed to cooking for a crowd, says a bubbling casserole of shell-shaped pasta stuffed with ricotta is something everyone in her family, from kids to grandmothers, loves. So we're willing to bet that would extend to your group, regardless of how it feels about this month's read. You can prepare this dish in advance—even eight weeks ahead. Just place four to six shells in each container, ladle sauce over them and seal. They'll keep in the freezer for up to two months.
Get the recipe: Baked Stuffed Shells
The Dish That'll Fill Them Up (But Not Make Them Feel So Stuffed They Can't Keep the Discussion Going)
Chances are you have everything you need to make this savory tart in your kitchen already...you'll just have to fend off any family members who are lured to the kitchen by the smell of sizzling bacon and caramelizing onions. Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread, and your guests will be perfectly full...but not in such a food coma that they can't offer their two cents on how implausible the book's ending was.
Get the recipe: Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart
Photo: Kritsada Panichgul
A Mexican Dinner That Won't Spill All Over Their Books
Tacos are great, but the fillings rarely stay inside the tortilla when you're eating them. These enchiladas, however, are not nearly as messy—and your guests can help themselves to one, two or more guilt-free. Ground turkey breast, low-carb tortillas, fat-free black bean dip and reduced-fat cheeses keep this usually calorie-laden, one-dish meal healthy.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Cilantro
The Meal to Make When You're Talking About The Iliad or The Odyssey (or You Just Love Greek Food)
We're huge fans of the classic taverna dinner of grilled or roasted meat wrapped up in a pita, but we've fallen hard for this vegetarian dish you can make in your slow cooker. Just simmer a big pot of white beans in a savory tomato sauce and then sprinkle it with tangy feta cheese. It takes about eight hours to cook, so you can start it in the morning and forget about it until dinnertime (leaving you a full day to finish the book).
Get the recipe: Giant Beans in Tomato Sauce
The Dinner for Cooks Who Spend All Their Money on Books
Preparing dinner for a group can get expensive—but not if you throw together a few homemade (wink, wink) pizzas. This uncomplicated recipe calls for simply a package of prepared pizza dough, a ball of smoked mozzarella and a lemon (plus olive oil, salt and pepper); and the results are bold and bright. Serve the pizza with a salad and you're all set.
Get the recipe: Lemon and Smoked-Mozzarella Pizza
The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Supper
Like the interactive novels from the '80s that had dozens of possible endings, some dishes can go in multiple directions. One we love is chili; you cook up a nicely seasoned pot of ground meat and beans, and then let everyone top it with their choice of fixings, from shredded cheddar, sour cream and sliced scallions, to Ritz crackers and—we know this sounds weird but trust us on this—thinly shaved bittersweet chocolate (some chili recipes actually include chocolate because it adds body—and at the very least, it'll pique people's curiosity).
Get the recipe: Turkey Chili
Next: 11 desserts you can make in just 10 minutes