When cooking for a large crowd, save yourself some stress, and make a casserole-style dish that can be prepped in advance and baked while the party gets going. Lasagna and macaroni and cheese are great ideas, but if you want something a little more unexpected, try Ina Garten's recipe for conchiglie al forno, an elegant baked pasta dish that's rounded out with radicchio, mushrooms, and a whole lot of naughty additions (think butter, four types of cheese, and lots of cream).
It's rich, hearty, and surprisingly crowd-pleasing. If you don't normally use radicchio as an ingredient, this recipe is perfect for a first-time experimentation. The salty cheese, cream, and woodsy sage tame the bitterness of the purple chicory.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (1 medium head) radicchio, finely shredded
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) fontina, coarsely shredded
1/2 cup (3 ounces) gorgonzola, crumbled
2 teaspoons ricotta
6 leaves fresh sage, chopped
1 pound pasta shells