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Spaghetti for 40 people!

popsiclepopsicle Registered User Posts: 130 Junior Member
edited October 2009 in Parent Cafe
I hope some parents can help us out. We are having 40 (or more!) people to dinner and want to serve spaghetti. Most people like it, it's cheap and almost everyone can eat it. But our problem is that our stove is REALLY small. You can fit one big pan and maybe 2 little ones on at the same time. The oven is tiny too. Sooo how do we make that much spaghetti? I know restaurants can't make the spaghetti from the beginning every time someone orders or it would take forever. Do they precook it somehow? How would you heat it up without it getting mushy? Thanx to anyone who can help us out!
Post edited by popsicle on

Replies to: Spaghetti for 40 people!

  • tango14tango14 Registered User Posts: 1,578 Senior Member
    Yes, you can pre-cook spaghetti. You should probably do a little experimenting with small quantities of it ahead of time to get the timing right and test how long it will stay edible. Make sure and add a little olive oil to the partially cooked spaghetti and toss it so it doesn't stick.

    This is just an estimate based on the kind of pasta I use and cooking times for our preferred level of doneness (H does not like al dente pasta--and he's Italian!). I normally cook angel hair pasta for 10 mn in boiling water. If I knew that at most it would be sitting for half an hour, I would probably cook it for 7-8 minutes, remove it from the heat and not worry about keeping it warm.

    Then I would prepare the sauce and mix the spaghetti and hot sauce in a large buffet pan which would then continue the cooking. Since all this depends on the quantities as well as how you like your pasta, that's why I suggest doing some test runs.

    If you don't have one, you can probably borrow or rent a large electric roaster to serve it in.

    Another option, if you have access to it, would be to use fresh pasta, but it's trickier to work with, so you probably shouldn't try it unless you're experienced with using fresh pasta.
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Registered User Posts: 5,440 Senior Member
    Make the sauce ahead of time and keep on warm in a crock pot. To prevent the cooked pasta from sticking together, I would toss it with a small amount of meatless sauce and then let the guests add the additional sauce to the top. You might also want to consider making sauce with and without meat so guests have a choice.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 32,533 Senior Member
    Pasta can also be tossed with a little bit of olive oil or butter to prevent it from sticking and forming an amorphous blob. Just do not overcook the pasta. Make a simple green salad to go with your spaghetti. If you do not have a warming drawer, hot dishes can be kept hot by covering them with a lid followed by a bunch of towels (I remember using my down jacket for this purpose when I was a student :))
  • HelenbackHelenback Registered User Posts: 488 Member
    I've done pasta for a crowd when i hosted the tennis team dinner. The first year, I made pasta and then offered two sauces--marinara with meatballs, or chicken alfredo, so that the boys would have options. The next year I decided I wanted at least part of the dinner to be made ahead, so I turned the chicken alfredo into a casserole that I could make ahead and then heat in the oven. The two links below offer some helpful tips as well.

    Spaghetti & Meatballs for a Crowd: Pasta, Spaghetti Sauce & Meatball Recipes | Suite101.com

    Growlies, how to make and plan a big spaghetti dinner
  • scualumscualum Registered User Posts: 2,863 Senior Member
    I worked for 6 months at an italian restaurant. To handle large crowds, the cook would cook the pasta ahead of time and then rewarm using a metal strainer.

    Assuming that the noodles are to be cooked for 12 minutes. I'd suggesting cooking them 10 minutes in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water with a small amount of olive oil and then strain the noodles off. Rinse with cold water and then toss with a small amount of olive oil. Place in a large bowl and put into the fridge, covered with a damp towel. Repeat until all the noodles are cooked.

    When you have the dinner party, take the noodles out of the frig perhaps an hour before dinner so that they can return to room temp.

    Heat up your sauces in the smaller pans. Once they are ready to go, bring the big pot back to a boil. Put perhaps 1/4 of the noodles into a metal strainer and dip it in the water for 2 minutes. Test the pasta to see if it is done and then strain. Place in a large bowl and cover with a towel. Repeat until all pasta is hot.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,008 Senior Member
    Agree with all here. Cook pasta ahead of time, a little undercooked, and toss with olive oil. That's what our school does when the swim team carboloads. You could also try some baked zitis.
  • LongPrimeLongPrime - Posts: 5,208 Senior Member
    ask your neighbors if you can borrow their outdoor-portable BBQ or turkey cooker that has a side burner.
    get a portable butane stove ~$20 at an outdoor store.
    electric pot
  • Columbia_StudentColumbia_Student Registered User Posts: 5,046 Senior Member
    I would cook the spaghetti in a slow cooker if you can borrow one or two. Mine is big enough for 20 people.
  • abasketabasket Registered User Posts: 16,666 Senior Member
    What post #6 said ^^^^ Have done this and it was very effective. Crockpots for the sauces. Easy peasy.
  • mominvamominva Registered User Posts: 2,783 Senior Member
    Consider Baked Ziti as an alternative for hosting big crowds. Pasta cooking and tray assembly can be done ahead of time (as can the salad assembly). Then when guests are there you focus only on mingling, heating and serving.
    I also suggest a preparing the trays with meatless sauce but provide two types of sauce for guests to add to their portions.
  • woodywoody Registered User Posts: 3,861 Senior Member
    Do ziti instead. much easier to reheat.
  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang Registered User Posts: 15,777 Senior Member
    Mominva, woody, are you from New Jersey? As a proud New Jersey native, I perked right up when I saw the mention of our state food, ziti.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,008 Senior Member
    Hey, this proud Texan was leading the ziti bandwagon! ;)
  • BatlloBatllo - Posts: 3,047 Senior Member
    Ask your neighbor if you can keep some large pots of sauce simmering on their stove or dig out your old plug in hot plates to keep the sauce warm.
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    my husband did spaghetti for 75, which turned into 110 (that was scary), and he did a variation of what GAMOM suggested. He cooked the sauce at home, then rewarmed at church and cooked the spaghetti in moderate sized batches. He had the advantage of having a commercial kitchen to rewarm and cook the spaghetti, plus 3 helpers.
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