Hold the standing rib roast. Scratch the filet mignon. In reality, most of our holiday gatherings call for easy dishes that can be made ahead and popped in the oven while relaxing with friends. This menu is just that. A homey pasta casserole with cheese, sausage and mushrooms that everyone, even the kids, will love and a rustic, free-form Italian pie called a crostada that will patiently wait until dessert.
• White Bean and Rosemary Crostini
• Baked Pasta with Sausage, Mushrooms and Fontina
• Pear Crostada
—Jill Melton, Relish Editor