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Cook Talk

Pasta bar
Hi Ellen,
Thank you for your site, I'm making a donation because it has helped me immensely!

We are planning a dinner for 500. We have decided to do a pasta theme.

The menu so far is:

Main Dishes Pasta Bar
-Spaghetti/Penne (75# or 300 four oz. servings/each)
-Marinara/Alfredo 1.25 qt/lb
-Meatballs/Grilled Sliced Chicken (00 four oz servings/each)

Full size steam trays of: (estimating 20 servings/pan)
-Meatless Baked Ziti (10 pans)
-Artichoke/Sun Dried Tomato White Sauce Bake (6 pans)
-Cajun Blackened Chicken Alfredo (10 pans)

Sides are bread and tossed salad.
Desserts and drinks are potluck and we will have plenty.

I'M LITERALLY FEEDING AN ARMY. I estimate 250 will be soldiers, 150 spouses/sig others, 100 children 0-18.

Is this enough food??? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Also, we are trying to make as many of these things in advances as possible. How far in advance can we assemble the steam tray casseroles without hurting quality (i.e. no mushy pasta!)
Thank you!

Thank you!

I should mention we are still debating whether to make all of the alfredo casserole style in pans, and instead of offering grilled chicken and meatballs, we would offer spaghetti/marinara + meatballs + ham as the main dish and the rest of the pasta choices would be buffet self serve casserole style.

We are looking for the option that would make the pre-production easier and make the line flow quicker to accommodate all of our guests faster.

First, congratulations on making this effort for the military and their families.

With 500 people, you will need at least 6 serving lines or 3 double-sided lines to serve in an hour- if you could, 4 double-sided, as the closer you get to 50 per line, the closer you get to the one hour goal. Each one will have all the the choices- plan your serving dishes.

Wonder if you would go one step further and casserole ALL your pasta dishes? This is one sure way to avoid mushy pasta , ease pre-production prep and day of prep, including make ahead, and speed serving.

If prepped up to 72 hours before serving with al dente pasta and refrigerated, the steam pans just take about a half hour longer to heat than freshly assembled.

About amounts: the army estimates 18 pounds for 100 1 1/2 cup servings, so 4 servings per 1 pound is ok.

You might make some of your pasta to be mac and cheese, esp if if you decide to serve ham.

Penne holds much better than spaghetti.

I would do all the Alfredo casseroled and you do not need to blacken the chicken- more will go if plain. Some veg to, tiny bits of broccoli, etc.

Usually in USA groups, about 1/2 goes red, 1/4 white and 1/4 pesto or "other".

Meatballs are fine separate, red or brown gravy (prob red for his menu); not too big, as most people like the looks of 3 smaller compared to one large.

Please consider adding a veg side dish. Could be roasted mixed, 22 pounds per 100, which can be served room temp; or antipasto style, there is a recipe on this site, about 2 gallons per 100

Lots of Parmesan cheese!

Watch out for:
Make at least 2 pans of a vegetarian and gluten free pasta and label boldly, with this size crowd, essential.

Consider pork-free meatballs.

his will get you started. Write back as you need to.

Thank you!

I have 4 ideas in mind. Please bear with me!

1) all casserole style

If we decide to go all casserole style how many pans would we need total?

2) Spaghetti/Meatballs + everything else casserole

3) Ham + Spaghetti/meatball + everything else cassertive

4) what everyone seems to want: 2 choices of pasta (penne/spaghetti) , 2 sauces (marinara, alfredo, I'm using your recipe), 2 proteins (meatball/chicken)
The commanders want to serve the families and so I thin they want to actually dish out something.
To simplify even more, what pasta shape would be universal? Would all penne be ok for marinara and meatballs? We were mistakenly promised the help of the chow hall to prepare, but good ole army regs prevent that so it's a handful of volunteer spouses doing it.
I'm thinking a buffet style for all the pasta, and commanders can serve the sauce and protein.

Also how much salad would you prep? I know a lot usually goes to waste. Would you pre-dress it before serving to cut down line times?

Sorry for delay- friend in hospital.

Use the salad guide here for less left over. Consider doing 1/2 green salad and 1/2 the antipasto veg on this site, 12 gallons.

Antipasto, bottom of page:

Do look a salads that

Penne rigati with the ridges, radiatore, bowties and twists all hold the best.

You know, roast chicken leg quarters with lots of Italian herb and side marinara would be a nice choice, prob better than ham-. 350 pieces with the meatballs. Good for commander servers too- easier than slices.

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