When preparing for a large group dinner, it’s always good to go with something simple and familiar, and what is more simple than spaghetti.
However, there is a difference between cooking a single pan or pot of spaghetti and making spaghetti for 10 or 20 or more people. So read on and we will try to give you some good tips on how you can prepare and cook spaghetti for a big group of people.
Catering for a Crowd is both an art and a science.
We are going to assume that you have your quantities worked out you can see our other articles on how much spaghetti or Mac and cheese you need to prepare for a crowd or a party.
How to Prepare to Make Spaghetti for A Crowd?
Of course, you can’t cook spaghetti alone so the partnering sauce or dish you should also keep quite straightforward, a simple Bolognese or tomato garlic-based sauce with the spaghetti then topped with Parmesan cheese will give you a nice taste without getting too complex.
Here is a great recipe for Meatballs and Spaghetti when feeding a big family.
You should always look for quality ingredients when creating a
- simple spaghetti sauce for a crowd
- secret sauce
- You Signature Sauce
This includes using high-quality oils, herbs, spices, and other ingredients.
If you are going to add a secret sauce to add some pizzaz to your spaghetti party, you have to remember to have that made in advance so that nobody learns your secret spaghetti sauce.
Can You Cook Spaghetti in Advance of The Event?
Yes in fact this is how most caterers will prepare when they are planning on serving spaghetti to a very large number of people. It also saves you having to go out and buy some very large pots and a number of extra burners so it’s all extra expense that you can save if you use this simple cooked in advance spaghetti method.
This Simple noodle-cooking system allows you to have the Pasta premade in ahead of time.
Spaghetti may be cooked 24 hours plus ahead. Just add olive oil, spaghetti, and a Ziploc bag. You can buy some pretty large Ziploc or sealable plastic bags so you could have easily a pound or more of spaghetti in each bag.
How To Cook Spaghetti In Advance And Keep it Fresh
When you’re distracted, your noodles might overcook. There’s a technique to escape the stress of cooking bulk spaghetti to perfection. You can cook spaghetti at least 24 hours in advance using oil, a Ziploc bag, and a little water.
Once your spaghetti is al dente, remove them from the stove and save the pasta water for your sauce. Pour 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over your noodles and toss to coat. After 15 minutes, place cooled noodles in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate.
Olive oil on the noodles is crucial. The oil adds a little taste and controls wetness in the pasta and bag. Dry spaghetti nobody likes.
When pasta’s moisture evaporates, the noodles clump. Olive oil keeps moisture in, air out, and pasta supple, moist, fresh, and well separated.
So in summary
When preparing and cooking pasta for a crowd, timing is everything. Having the right amount of time to cook the pasta and add hot sauce to the noodles helps ensure they come out perfectly.
Also, by cooking the noodles ahead of time, you can avoid the stress of preparing for the group, as well as trying to cook many batches of spaghetti on the day of the party it’s much easier to have it made in advance.
The other advantage of preparing spaghetti in advance is that it also eliminates the need for a single large pot and allows you to prepare miniature packs. You can additionally prepare pasta noodles a day or two before you plan on serving them.
When preparing the noodles, make sure that they are al dente. When cooking the pasta, it is essential to ensure that it is firm and holds its shape. To test if it is al dente, take a piece of the noodle out of the boiling water and bite on it.
Reheating the Spaghetti
Getting the sauce and cooking up the pasta on the day of your event can be very stressful, especially if you don’t have a safety net. Use time as your safety net.
How Do You Keep Pasta Warm for A Crowd
Start by making sure your pasta sauce is kept warm or is already reheated in perhaps a slow cooker.
How to keep spaghetti noodles warm for a crowd
Because you cooked the pasta ahead of time and it was firm you can quickly flash boil the pasta again in boiling water just for one or two minutes and it will actually be ready to eat and nice and hot.
This is the simplest way to reheat pasta.
There are other ways of covering it in baking trays by spraying a little bit of water and oil and keeping it on a low heat for a period of time that will warm the pasta through however using this method you do need to have the pasta cooked slightly more than the parboiling method where you just flash boil it again the day of the event.
Tips When Cooking Spaghetti for a Crowd
Getting the proper amount of food prepared for a crowd is a must when preparing spaghetti. Before you start cooking, plan and ask people how many they will eat. Also, try framing the pasta ahead of time to ensure everyone has something to eat. Here are some tips when cooking spaghetti for a crowd:
Use a Little Less Water
The directions for your package of spaghetti noodles state that you Will need a certain amount of water however most of the time you only need about 80% of what they state. This means that using slightly less water it will boil much quicker thus saving you time when you are cooking your pasta.
Keep a sharp eye on your pasta so that it doesn’t all clump or stick on the bottom of the pot which you can prevent by stirring it from time to time.
Pre-soak Your Spaghetti
While I don’t like this method because I prefer my spaghetti al dente one trick is you can pre-soak your spaghetti for approximately one hour in water.
Presoaking will allow the pasta to then cook very quickly literally in a number of minutes in boiling water.
Basically, by soaking it, you have softened the pasta or spaghetti dough and really all you’re doing is warming it up. But as I said this method tends to produce a less firm pasta and the people who really like a true Italian style pesto may comment that your pasta is a little bit overcooked.
However, if you are pressed for time and your accompanying sauces are good probably most of the guests won’t notice at all.
Use a Casserole Type or Baking Tray
When a large restaurant has a big group of people coming in they too will often prepare the pasta or spaghetti in advance.
They have the pre-cooked pasta sitting in large oven trays covered with aluminum foil on low heat.
They will have kept the pasta moist with a little bit of water and perhaps olive oil sprinkled over it so that it doesn’t dry out and once the guests arrive and the sauce is already preheated perhaps in a slow cooker they just take the pasta from the Oven because it is ready to serve in literally in minutes you’re serving up a hot pasta dish.
You can also use the oven if you have space to have some bread that you might choose to serve with it.
Make the Sauce With Quality Ingredients
One of the best ways to prepare your spaghetti for a large crowd is to ensure that everyone has an amazing sauce, so make sure the sauce should be combined with fresh quality herbs and spices.
It’s important to add these ingredients before you put them into the pan because they will lose their flavor when heated.
You can also have amazing meatballs when cooking for a crowd or other dishes too.
My final words are people will forgive a badly cooked spaghetti if your sauce is amazing. Therefore I reiterate use the best ingredients you can buy for your sauce and invest the time in absolutely making it amazing.
Fine-tune your sauce use a little flash of cayenne pepper not very much just a tiny amount and it will bring out some of the other herbs and spices that you have put in. I stress experiment first before you make your big batch but this is a shift track to actually make the whole sauce come alive.
I also accentuate this point by saying you could have perfectly cooked pasta but if your sauce was not good then people are going to think the dish is no good – it all comes down to the sauce.