At Pasta Evangelists, we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the traditions of our Italian ancestors. We use recipes that have been handed down through generations, with each incarnation getting ever closer to pasta perfection. But that’s not the only thing we’ve learnt.
Too many people do a disservice to fresh pasta by not serving it correctly. They either cook it for far too long or drown it sauce. We want to put our expertise to good use. So, we’ve assembled our guide to serving the perfect plate of pasta with tips from our Head Chef Roberta D’Elia, as well as some of the finest chefs in Italy. Buona fortuna!
How Much is One Serving of Pasta?
A generous serving of Pasta Evangelists' Fresh Gnocchi with Beef & Barolo Wine Ragù.
While the old saying ‘you can never have too much of a good thing’ still rings true (especially when it comes to fresh pasta!), we are often asked how much pasta constitutes a single serving. For instance, you may be throwing a traditional Italian dinner party, and only have a finite amount of pasta to go around. You’ll also want to be sure that your guests have enough room for antipasto, or a decadent dessert.
At Pasta Evangelists, we’re a firm advocate of listening to the experts. Therefore, we turned to our Head Chef Roberta D’Elia. Roberta has spent years perfecting the art of making and serving fresh pasta. We trust her so much, she's in charge of running our weekly pasta masterclasses.
According to Roberta, as far as Italians are concerned 100g is the perfect amount of pasta for a single dish. However, if you’re treating friends or loved ones to a three-course meal, you should serve up to 90g of fresh pasta. If you’re really pulling out all the stops, 70g of fresh pasta per person will ensure your guests have room for over three courses. In Italy, pasta tends to be served as one in a series of courses. Italians are much more concerned with variety and quality, rather than sheer volume.
What type of fresh pasta do you intend to serve your lucky guests? Filled pasta shapes such as ravioli or tortellini are guaranteed to be a hit at the dinner table. If you’re planning on whipping up some fresh pasta parcels for a party of four, you should prepare at least 300g of fresh pasta. Bear in mind that any surplus pasta can be easily stored for future meals. If this is the case, check out our guide to storing fresh pasta.
The Eternal Question: Pasta to Sauce or Sauce to Pasta?
The best method is, and always will be, pasta to sauce. Pasta and sauce are of course a match made in heaven. But like any relationship, the different flavours need time to become acquainted in order to reach their full potential.
Any good Italian ristorante will cook the pasta until it’s on the verge of being done (al dente, of course, for those Italian food purists). Then they will drain and add the pasta to the hot sauce until it is ready to serve. This Italian technique is called pasta salata in padella, and it allows the pasta to soak up all of those wonderful flavours.
How Much Pasta Sauce for 500g Pasta?
Whether it’s a fiery puttanesca or a decadent carbonara, the temptation is always there to bathe your pasta in a tantalising sauce. In the eyes of the Italians however, this is quite the faux-pas. Anna Del Conte, author of The 10 Commandments for Making Good Italian Food, advises that "the Italians like to eat pasta dressed with sauce - not sauce dressed with pasta."
The general rule for tomato sauce is 1 ½ cups for 500g of pasta. If you are opting for an oil-based sauce you should reduce this to 1 cup for every 500g. Commendable restraint is required when serving a creamy sauce. We believe that pasta isn’t just a base for the sauce - each pasta shape has a unique quality that deserves to shine through. So go easy on the sauce, we promise you won’t miss out on any delicious flavours.
Should I Serve Pasta in a Bowl or Plate?
Another question that has pervaded generations. While we’d love to offer you an absolute answer, this appears to be a question of tradition versus practicality. Let’s ask the experts again, shall we? This time we’re turning to Maureen Fant, co-author of Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way. She advises that when dining at a trattoria, a less-formal dining establishment, pasta is often served in a soup bowl, which is shaped like a shallow plate. A more refined ristorante, however, will serve pasta on a plate.
Herein lies the dilemma: you want to serve pasta as the Italians do, but you also feel a bowl would ensure none of that delicious sauce goes to waste. If that’s the case, then simply serve your fresh pasta however you like - be it a plate or a bowl. We’re one of the biggest proponents for Italian culinary traditions, but we also want to make sure you can savour your sauces!
One Final Tip to Ensure Perfect Pasta Presentation…
A perfect twirl of pasta.
Unfortunately, not all of us are a deft hand at serving pasta, whether it’s on a plate or in a bowl. That’s why we’re letting you in on a secret presentation tip used by expert Italian chefs. After all, you eat with your eyes (or as the Italians would say - “mangiare con gli occhi").
Ever asked yourself how chefs are able to present pasta in such a neat and intricate twirl? When the pasta is ready to be served to their hungry patrons, they pick up the pasta with either tongs or a carving fork, then gently place it inside a ladle. From there, they twirl and twirl until they end up with a delicate nest of fresh pasta. All that’s left to do is carefully move their nest over to the plate, and then carefully slip it out of the ladle before removing the fork. It’s that simple - bellissimo!
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.
Want even more pasta perks? Subscribers receive new recipes to try each week, with free delivery and 15% off each dish. Subscribers also gain access to exclusive gifts and perks, as well as early access to Pasta Evangelists events and classes. To learn more about our pasta club, see our subscription guide.