In partnership with our friends at Belgioioso

Having people over for a meal doesn’t mean you have to capital-E Entertain. It can be easy and fun. Cozy, intimate, relaxed. There’s a time and a place for a centerpiece and signature cocktail—but not right now. We picked some recipes for the nights on your calendar you want to feel uncomplicated, like your monthly book club meetings. Or effortless, like when an old friend is in town for a couple nights and their business plans fall through and they wonder if they can pop by.

We mostly went with our favorite Italian-inspired recipes because they’re comforting, crowd-pleasing, and rely on fewer ingredients—which is all the more reason to go for the best quality you can find (namely: cheese). With these recipes in your arsenal, you’ll be prepared if not totally unfazed when your sister needs you to assemble your entire squad around a table for food and wine and piping hot tea.

Some tips for throwing together a fabulous meal at a moment’s notice:

DO START WITH A WELL-STOCKED PANTRY.

We’ve extolled the virtues of a well-stocked pantry before, and we’ll do it again: Having some critical items on hand from the get-go makes the whole night run that much more smoothly. Aged cheeses, like Asiago or Parmesan (Belgioioso cheeses are excellent and easy to find), have long shelf lives and are wonderful additions to salads and pastas. Jarred marinated vegetables, olives, and tinned fish, like anchovies, also come in handy and add significant flavor.

DO CONSIDER THE DIETARY NEEDS OF YOUR GUESTS, BUT DON’T GO CRAZY.

A group text is prudent: “Excited to have you all over! Could you let me know if there’s anything you’re not eating these days? Hitting the market in an hour.” More often than not, swaps are pretty easy to make (gluten-free pasta is not only ubiquitous but actually tastes good these days). And you can usually get away with leaving certain elements (like nuts) on the side.

DON’T BE A HERO: KNOW WHEN TO OUTSOURCE.

Delegating can feel like more work than it’s worth sometimes. But when you’re hosting, allowing your guests to take a little off your grocery list helps you relax and have fun, and people are usually so glad to contribute. Try it—ask for a bottle of wine, a dessert, a nice loaf of bread, or even a cool dinner party playlist.