Quick to prepare and low in cost, pasta can be made in mass quantities without jeopardizing the flavor of the food. Pasta can also be cooked slightly before the event to make serving it go faster. Proper planning will ensure that the correct amount of pasta will be ready when the crowd sits down for dinner.
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Determine the Amount of Pasta Needed
Depending on the number of guests, decide if the pasta will be a main dish or a side dish. Main dish servings allow for four people per pound of dried pasta., while for side dishes plan to make 1 pound of dried pasta for every six people (see Reference 1).
Parboil the Pasta
Bring 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta to a full, rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook it until it sinks under the surface and begins to wilt. As soon as the pasta returns to a boil, begin timing. After 2 minutes, drain the pasta and pour it into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the pasta is thoroughly chilled, drain it again and coat it in olive oil before storing. The parboiled pasta will remain fresh for up to six hours in the refrigerator, covered (see Reference 2).
Serving the Pasta and Sauce
Reheat the pasta by adding it to a pot of boiling water. Once the water comes back to a full boil, cook the pasta for one to two minutes, or until the pasta is slightly firm but edible--this is known as al dente. Heat 1/2 cup of pasta sauce per person. Serve the pasta and sauce separately in a buffet style, or create individual plates (see Reference 3).