* feeds 8 people
* is pretty easy to make (in terms of not wanting to painstakingly slice up a whole lot of stuff, because 8 people)
* is pretty fast (because I'll need to get groceries after work, and there is not much time between then and when they're coming over)
I'm a vegetarian, but nobody else is, so feel free to suggest things that the meat-eaters can cook as long as that's not all that's in the proposed meal.
I am thinking possibly potatoes au gratin, microwaved squash halves, and some kind of bean salad. Or possibly a green salad with pears and almonds. Potatoes au gratin are not particularly fast, but the prep is front-loaded and I don't think anyone will mind if we do the little house tour and chat a bit while things are in the oven. If I get groceries at lunch I can do bean salad ahead, and it will be better with time to marinate a bit.
This does not feel like a very inspired menu, though. (I do better with "What can I cobble together from available ingredients?" than with "What should I get at the store?", but available ingredients aren't going to make anything but pasta for this many people.) Any ideas?