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Serving a spaghetti dinner with tasty, well prepared pasta is actually a fairly tough, labor intensive meal for a large group. If you have the oven space, or enough crockpots, consider a baked pasta- can be made ahead and frozen successfully, and people love it. Lasagna or a baked "spaghetti pie" is a great alternative; additional recipes in the thrifty entree pages.
|Cooked Quantity or Measure|
|Dry Pasta Shapes
Small to medium
macaroni, shells, fusilli, penne, farfelle
|2 ounces||1/2 Cup||1 Cup|
|4 ounces||1 Cup||2 Cup|
|8 ounces||2 Cups||4 Cups|
|Long dry pasta shapes
spaghetti, vermicelli, fettuccine
|4 ounces||3/4 Inch Diameter Bunch||2 Cups|
|8 ounces||1 1/2 Inch Diameter Bunch||4 Cups|
|Fresh Pasta or Fresh Egg Noodles||8 ounces||2 1/2 Cups|
|Per person Dry Pasta Serving Sizes|
|Main Course||4 ounces||1 Cup||2 Cups|
|Side Dish or 1st Course||2.5 ounces||5/8 Cup||1 1/4 Cups|
The quantities above are basic standards that can be used for estimating the quantity to buy. You can also refer to the table on the backside of the package, which shows yields for that specific type of pasta, but pay close attention to portion sizes.
When using fresh pasta in place of dried pasta, the amount used will need to be increased because when cooked, equal weights of dried pasta will produce close to 60% more than the fresh pasta. So if you want to use fresh pasta in a recipe calling for 16 ounces of dried pasta, you will need approximately 26 ounces of fresh pasta to get the same amount.
Heads up! If you refrigerate the pans before baking, reduce the baking temp to 325 degrees and increase cooking time another 20-30 minutes.
|Pan size||9" square pan||9x13" pan||11½" x 17" pan|
number of pans
to serve 50
|10 pans||5 pans||3 pans|
|Servings per pan||6 portions||10 to 12 portions||16 to 20 portions|
|Cups of sauce per pan||3 cups||6 cups||10 cups|
|Lasagna pasta per pan||¼ lb.||½ lb.||1 lb.|
Meat or veggie
mix per pan
|about 2½ cups||about 4½ cups||about 8 cups|
|Ricotta cheese per pan
mix in 6-8 eggs per pound
|½ lb.||1 lb.||1 2/3 lbs.|
shredded, per pan
|¼ lb. 1 cup||½ lb. 2 cups||¾ lb. 3-4 cups|
|Parmesan cheese per pan
mix with mozzarella
|½ cups||1 cups||1 2/3 cups|
|Baking time freshly made||45 minutes||1 hour at 350°||2 hours at 350°|
|Baking time refrigerated||1 hour at 325°||1 1/4-1/2 hour at 325°||2 1/2+ hours at 325°|
|Baking time frozen||3 hours at 325°||3 hours at 325°||4 hours at 325°|
Coat the cookwell (the removable pan) well with a nonstick spray or shortening (oil does not work well here) and coat with the old fashioned grated type Parmesan that comes in a shaker- you don't want the fancier shredded type for this job.
Layer the lasagna from your favorite recipe into the pan- it needs to be 4 inches deep or less, which means the maximum amount is about what you would put in 4 9x13 pans. Refrigerate covered until ready to bake.
Preheat the roaster with the lid on to 300 degrees for 20 minutes.
Have a can of tomato juice or an equivalent of whole milk for a creamy sauce, available.
Insert the cookwell and cover. Bake until the temp in the middle of the dish is 165 degrees, which takes about 3-4 hours depending on the thickness of the lasagna. Check about every 1 hour to see if it needs liquid added, use the reserved liquid.
You CAN prepare the giant lasagna way ahead and freeze it, by lining the cookwell thouroughly with foil, doing the nonstick spray thing, making the lasagna, freezing it, and popping it out of the pan into an oversize freezer bag. But this is important: if you do it this way, take it out of the freezer three days ahead, nonstck spray and cheese-coat the cookwell, put in the unwrapped lasagna and LET IT THAW covered IN THE REFRIGERATOR 3 DAYS. These giant lasagnas do not do well cooked from frozen in the roaster, though they can be cooked from frozen in the regular oven.
Bake in the PREHEATED roaster at 300 degrees. When it reaches temp, turn down to 180 and keep covered until served.
A 500g (+- 1lb) box of pasta feeds 4-6 people as an entree, 8 to 10 as a side dish or first course, or about 15 people as a pasta salad. If you just have one sauce, less chance of leftovers. Leftovers can also be donated to the food bank or frozen.
Here are a couple of from-scratch bulk recipes for the sauce
1 cup olive oil
Fry peppers and onions briefly in olive oil. When golden, add garlic, saute just until fragrant Remove to large kettles. Brown meat loaf mix quickly, breaking it up as it cooks. Add to kettles with tomatoes, and Italian spice or oregano.
Notice all the ground and powdered items. This is part of the flavor secret- I have used ground celery and celery juice in my minestrone for decades. Also, minimal additiona, no tomato paste, etc.
Second, notice the mixed meats and broths. You will be tempted to omit or substitute- try it as is first. The pork broth will have to be home, but is one of the flavoring necessities.
ground beef, 120 pounds
Start by dividing all the ground veggies, mushroom powder, seasonings and spices into kettles, and cooking while stirring, till they start to dry a bit.
Round 1 of the division
This sauce takes a lot of stirring and patience but that makes the consistency smooth and creamy. It thickens as it sits. If sauce is too thick, recommend adding some dry white wine.
* 7 to 8 3/4 cups sweet butter
* 15 pounds pasta- I like 1/2 and 1/2 spinach and white fettucine- makes a combo the Italians call hay and straw.
OPTIONAL add-ins: broccoli bits, mushrooms, red bell pepper, cooked drained chopped spinach; shrimp, crab, lobster, shredded chicken- about 15 cups
0. Start the pasta water boiling for the large amounts of pasta before you start making the sauce. See the spaghetti, lotsa pasta page on the website for info on cooking large amounts of pasta.
Supplies for front of the house
Spaghetti with meat sauce
7 1-pound loaves French bread
Salad: Tossed salad with choice of dressing
Dessert: 4 9x13 Dump cakes or cobblers
To Make Cake: Spray bottom of 9x13 cake pans with Pam. For each pan, pour 1 can crushed pineapple in bottom of pan and smooth out. Pour one (dry) cake mix over pineapple. Layer 2 quarters of butter, sliced into thin squares, over cake mix. Pour one can of pie filling over butter. Bake in preheated oven of 350 for 40-50 minutes. Cut 12 to 15 pieces per pan and garnish with a dollop of cream.
Set tables with clothes and candles and decorate tables. If possible, let people sit down and "order", so you know exactly what they want on their plate.