Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: mbbored on September 10, 2012, 05:31:56 PM

Title: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: mbbored on September 10, 2012, 05:31:56 PM
Hey folks, it looks like I have 10 days to plan a pasta dinner for 30 with $100, for meat eaters, vegans, and vegetarians. My menu so far looks like

Lots of noodles (short? Long? Both?)
Meat sauce
Marinara
Alfredo sauce
Big salad
Sauteed veggies
Freshly grated parmesan
Bread & olive oil
Chocolate cake
Fruit bowl

Should I add appetizers? Do I have a budget for that? How much pasta and sauce to make?
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: NyaChan on September 10, 2012, 05:39:34 PM
Not sure of amounts, but if you are short on money, I think you can cut the meat sauce and just have white & red - the great thing about pasta is that a lack of meat is not immediately apparent or a problem (for myself that is...).  With the variety of items including bread & veggies & salad for sides, I don't think you need appetizers unless you are planning on a long wait before serving - especially since I don't think $100 bucks will cover appetizers also if you are buying all the ingredients that make up the things you mentioned. 
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: jpcher on September 10, 2012, 06:33:12 PM
I agree with NyaChan about the meat sauce. Maybe, budget allowing, grill up some Italian sausages and slice (or crumble) on the side if people want to add it to their marinara. I understand that the meat takes on flavor when cooked in a sauce, but we're looking at a tight budget.

Or sautee some cubed chicken breast with a basil pesto (or spiced as you like) instead of the sausages. Chicken will work well with both the alfredo and marinara.

Mushrooms are a good alternative to meat and cheaper, too. Maybe do a side dish of mushrooms (sauteed in a savory broth) instead of the above suggested sausage/chicken.

What are you planning for the sauteed veggies?*

Pasta? I think I would go with a spaghetti and a penne or rigatoni for variety. The pasta is the least expensive, so go with plenty of this.

Maybe add a basil pesto to your table (small jar about $5-6, served in a bowl with a small spoon) This would work well for a 3rd sauce. You won't need much because of your other sauces.


Appetizers? Depends on your schedule. You already mentioned bread and olive oil. What about serving that for the appetizer? Maybe slice a few tomatoes splashed with balsamic . . . what isn't eaten during the appetizer phase can always be brought to the dinner table.


Good luck! I really think you can do this on a $100 budget. ;D





*You can take this for what it's worth (my own personal preference :-\) Please stay away from green bell peppers! In my opinion, they are overpowering and the other veggies soak up the flavor of the green bells and that's all I can taste. But that's just me. ;)




eta: I just googled "How much pasta?" and it seems like the general consensus is 1 lb. per 4 people if the pasta is the main course.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: buvezdevin on September 10, 2012, 09:46:25 PM
Depending on how your budget works out, you may want to go with just a red marinara sauce, and have a "meat" version and a vegan version.  Or, as a PP suggested, have some cooked crumbled Italian or other sausage to customize.  Since vegans won't eat a typical Alfredo sauce, I would skip that unless you really want it, and by using a single base sauce, use any extra budget to up the veg range or other items.

I do think it would be great to offer two types of pasta, seconding the spaghetti and rigatoni - but really any type of long noodle and a short shaped version would be nice.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: mbbored on September 10, 2012, 09:47:21 PM
Thanks for the responses so far! I love the idea of pesto: I'm trying to do this all from scratch and my basil plant is going a little nuts. As for the veggies, I'm leaning away from sauteed veggies and towards my roasted broccoli which converts non-broccoli eater.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Isometric on September 10, 2012, 10:17:15 PM
If you have a basil plant, pesto is perfect! I love pesto but it can get a bit expensive if you're buying ready made.

I agree with two types of pasta - I know I avoid eating longer stuff around others because it gets a bit messy! Penne & fettuchini (sp?) would be my picks. Pasta is super cheap, generic brands here run $1 per bag. I'd be tempted to get 15, probably overkill at 1/2 bag each but you don't have to cook it all.

Re the vegies and salad, you probably don't need to do both, if the budget is looking a bit tight! I'd probably go with butter/marg for the bread, instead or as well as olive oil.

I'd also just double check the ingredients of the pasta and sauces for the vegan, should be ok especially as you're doing a lot yourself, but milk products and non vegan/vegetarian E numbers (e.g. 120 red coloring - carmine/cochineal) seem to sneak in a lot of places!
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: PastryGoddess on September 11, 2012, 12:20:14 AM
If you want to do vegan pasta sauce you can either make it from scratch or use Newmans Own. It's the only vegan pasta sauce I know of that is sold in most major markets.

If you definitely want to do a meat sauce a large family pack of ground beef or turkey will do.  Not sure of the markets near you, but where I am most markets have ground beef or turkey on sale every week.  I've got ground turkey on sale for $3.49 at my local store

Poor mans bruschetta to go with your bread and olive oil: 2 cans of diced tomatoes, an onion, fresh basil, olive oil, salt, and garlic.  Chop all together throw in a bowl and call it a day.  If you get everything on sale it'll cost you less than 5 bucks

Why don't you do a roasted vegetable medley?  People can add that to their pasta if they want
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: O'Dell on September 11, 2012, 05:00:06 AM
I say go with short pasta like penne or farfalle. I love pasta! But I don't like long pasta, spaghetti in particular, for larger dinners. Not only is it messy to eat at the best of times, if it gets cool it stiffens and becomes unappetizing and even messier!

If you want to offer different kinds of pasta and your budget allows, why not offer different shapes but also different flavors such as whole grain pasta or veggie flavored pasta? They usually aren't too much more expensive than regular.

I like the sound of the pesto too. Walnuts instead of pine-nuts will be less expensive. There are vegan recipes out there.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: JonGirl on September 11, 2012, 05:39:34 AM



What about spinach and ricotta cannaloni with tomato sauce?
Or a beef ravioli with meat sauce. They always go down well.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: greencat on September 11, 2012, 06:05:45 AM
I agree with prior advice to nix the alfredo sauce - it's expensive and a large array of people can't eat it, both vegans and any lactose-intolerant.  You can make mini-meatballs fairly cheaply, cook them in advance, and then have them separately in a crockpot in a bit of sauce so they soak up the flavor - ground beef is usually $1/lb or less in the 6+lb large packages from walmart.

For the far fewer people that can't eat tomatoes (heartburn problems as well as allergies and personal preferences) they should be able to toss their pasta with olive oil and spices.

Check your diners for nut allergies though since you're planning on pesto - I've seen recipes for making it without the nuts (and the substitute ingredients are, as a bonus, cheaper!)

Stuffed mushrooms are a fairly easy and cheap appetizer - and there are many different ways you can stuff them to make them vegan or vegetarian friendly.

My personal vote on the pasta type is for rotini.   It's better to serve a shaped pasta instead of a long one for group meals because they're a lot less messy.  One of the common supermarket brands also happens to make a whole grain tricolor rotini that is made with some different vegetables in the pasta.

Doing roasted veggies en masse is easier than doing satueed veggies en masse.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Oh Joy on September 11, 2012, 06:10:36 AM
Who makes up most of the guest list?  Reason I ask is that pasta feeds around here are often for teenaged boys on sports teams, who often don't care much about what they eat in a group setting as long as there's a lot of it and nothing too strange.  Sometimes parents are fed as well.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: mbbored on September 11, 2012, 10:04:00 AM
Who makes up most of the guest list?  Reason I ask is that pasta feeds around here are often for teenaged boys on sports teams, who often don't care much about what they eat in a group setting as long as there's a lot of it and nothing too strange.  Sometimes parents are fed as well.

I'm feeding fellow grad students and their significant others: we're in our 20s/30s/40s, the crowd will be 70% female, and 50% international (if that makes a diffference).

Thanks for the advice about sticking with short noodles: that makes a lot of sense. And O'Dell, I love the idea of having both regular and whole grain pasta. This is California and a "healthier" option is never unappreciated.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: greencat on September 11, 2012, 10:07:05 AM
I'd suggest going for a home-made sauce then - your guests will appreciate the difference - and it's cheaper to make a big pot than to buy jars of sauce!
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: audrey1962 on September 11, 2012, 10:34:01 AM
This is what I would do:

One sauce: Marinara (a vegan sauce or make your own)
Two types of pasta: one short noodle (such as penne), one long noodle
Put everything else on the side, including the meats and cheeses
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: lady_disdain on September 11, 2012, 10:39:16 AM
This is what I would do:

One sauce: Marinara (a vegan sauce or make your own)
Two types of pasta: one short noodle (such as penne), one long noodle
Put everything else on the side, including the meats and cheeses

I would only add a second sauce (pesto, since basil is available). Easy to make, cheap if you substitute the pine nuts and it freezes well in case of leftovers.

Have you thought of drinks yet?
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: audrey1962 on September 11, 2012, 10:55:06 AM
ETA: I would also skip the sauteed veggies.

The bread and oil can serve as app's.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: CakeBeret on September 11, 2012, 11:21:23 AM
I would do a homemade marinara sauce. It's so much cheaper and easier, especially if you can get the tomatoes in bulk, and you can make it vegan.

For a secondary sauce, you could also do a roasted veggie sauce. Similar to marinara, but roast tomatoes, onions, garlic, and mushrooms together before cooking into sauce.

Do you have an Aldi or similar discount store in your area? I can get a pound of pasta for 60 cents at my Aldi.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: greencat on September 11, 2012, 11:48:24 AM
Even better is if you know someone with a membership to a warehouse club that is willing to take you shopping (bring your cash though, as they often insist that if the purchase is made with a credit card, that it match the member name).  They sell huge bags of pasta for really cheap - I think I bought a ten-pounder at Sam's club for $3 or $4.

Dollar stores are not necessarily good places to buy pasta, if your grocery store brand is less than a dollar a pound.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: wx4caster on September 11, 2012, 12:50:47 PM
Personally, I would go for pesto instead of the Alfredo sauce and roasted vegetables instead of sauteed - something with red peppers, eggplant and lots of garlic (one of my favourites: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pasta-with-Roasted-Vegetables-Tomatoes-and-Basil-105764 (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pasta-with-Roasted-Vegetables-Tomatoes-and-Basil-105764) but I do add more garlic)
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: rose red on September 11, 2012, 01:42:29 PM
Since I don't like red sauce or pesto (not that I'm going to be there), I suggest bowtie pasta with oil and garlic with broccoli (plus mushrooms and/or chicken if it's in the budget). 

Does pasta salad count or does the main meals have to be hot?  This can be made the night before and fairly inexpensive.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Zilla on September 11, 2012, 02:12:25 PM
I second the meatballs.  You can do ground turkey or chicken for a "healthier" version and add spices/herbs, breadcrumbs and parm to it for alot of flavor.  And meatballs can be cooked separately and added to the tomato sauce (leaving the sauce vegan style for others) or pesto if you go that route.  The chicken/turkey will do well with pesto as well.


I would get 2 pounds of meat which can make about 40 small meatballs.  (about 20 per pound)  Cook them on cookie sheets in the oven and then put them in a crock pot to keep warm with a tiny bit of chicken stock for steaming.


Making your own bread would be cheap as well, especially if you do the artisan 5 minute bread recipe. [size=78%]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/211brex.html?_r=0 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/211brex.html?_r=0)[/size]


For 30 people, I would do 10 loaves.  You can add garlic to the dough and make it garlicky.  You would need 3 bags of flour and 10 packets of yeast if you used the above recipe.  I make it all the time and love it.


Good luck!
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Thipu1 on September 11, 2012, 02:22:56 PM
One lacto-vegetarian dish I've found that satisfies carnivores is a baked ziti with a good marinara and plenty of mozzarella on top. 

I would add my voice to the suggestion that green bell peppers be excluded from everything but the salad.  Those things are always top dog in any cooked dish and remain so for hours after eating. 

Dump the Alfredo and go with the pesto.  Pesto keeps better.  It's friendly to more diets and basil by the bunch should be within your budget.  Don't depend on that poor little plant of yours to provide everything. 

Pesto and maninara available with linguini and bow-ties should take care of things nicely.



Whatever you decide to do, the meal sounds like something I'd love to   
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: mbbored on September 11, 2012, 06:36:02 PM
This is what I would do:

One sauce: Marinara (a vegan sauce or make your own)
Two types of pasta: one short noodle (such as penne), one long noodle
Put everything else on the side, including the meats and cheeses

I would only add a second sauce (pesto, since basil is available). Easy to make, cheap if you substitute the pine nuts and it freezes well in case of leftovers.

Have you thought of drinks yet?

I like this set up with sauce options. I might do sauteed ground Italian sausage for something more exciting. As a vegetarian, I don't feel comfortable doing more than browning preground meat, so I think the meatballs will be out. Drinks I'm keeping simple, since our group doesn't seem to drink soft drinks so I'll just be providing water, iced tea, and lemonade. I can't buy alcohol with the money provided, so I put on the invitation that if they have a favorite beer or wine, feel free to bring some to share.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Ms_Cellany on September 11, 2012, 07:29:05 PM
Some caveats to keep in mind for the vegans:

Pesto is usually made with cheese
Some pasta contains egg
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: audrey1962 on September 11, 2012, 07:31:13 PM
I have a great vegan pesto recipe if you're interested.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: mbbored on September 11, 2012, 07:36:20 PM
I have a great vegan pesto recipe if you're interested.

I love to try it! I've got one myself, but I've found I can never have enough vegan recipes.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: PastryGoddess on September 12, 2012, 12:36:23 AM
I have a great vegan pesto recipe if you're interested.
I third that :)
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: audrey1962 on September 12, 2012, 08:07:36 AM
Version 1

Poor Man's Pesto Sauce
3 cups loosly packed fresh basil
6 T pine nuts
2-4 large cloves of grlic
3/4 teas. coarse salt, or to taste
6 T fruity extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a blender. Process or blend until the ingredients are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as necessary. Add the oil and process until smooth and creamy. If not using immediately, store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or place in ice cube trays, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the freezer no longer than 1 month for the best flavor.

Tip: Because pesto freezes well, you might want to make more, if you have lots of basil on hand. For every extra cup of loosely packed basil leaves, add the following to the recipe: 2 T pine nuts, 1 clove garlic (or to taste), 1/4 teas. coarse salt (or to taste), and 2 T olive oil.

—Donna Klein (From The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen)
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: audrey1962 on September 12, 2012, 08:09:28 AM
Version 2
This is my favorite! We make it constantly.

Ligurian pesto
http://books.google.com/books?id=53ewZkELA64C&pg=PT131&lpg=PT131&dq=ligurian+pesto+donna+klein&source=bl&ots=8BUnk11d6u&sig=Bhxt5tiTer1i-j1_kcP6a3pHCO4&hl=en#v=onepage&q=ligurian%20pesto%20donna%20klein&f=false
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: sweetonsno on September 12, 2012, 03:30:18 PM
Some caveats to keep in mind for the vegans:

Pesto is usually made with cheese
Some pasta contains egg

Additional caveats for the vegetarians: many commercial sauces are flavored with meat (check the label) and lots of cheeses contain animal rennet, which isn't vegetarian (for instance, real parmesan cheese is always non-vegetarian). The tricky thing with cheese is that it isn't always labeled as vegetarian or non-vegetarian. (Often, you just see "enzymes," which doesn't tell you much.)

http://cheese.joyousliving.com is a great resource for finding vegetarian cheeses. It includes lists by brand and lists by type. For instance, Kraft is pretty much all non-vegetarian, but Tillamook usually is (with the exception of their aged white cheddars).

Dried semolina pasta is usually vegetarian-friendly.

And Audrey, that pesto looks great!
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: Mikayla on September 12, 2012, 03:53:01 PM
Some caveats to keep in mind for the vegans:

Pesto is usually made with cheese
Some pasta contains egg

I agree. Also, I learned the hard way that vegans don't eat any tomato product that contains "natural flavors".  I think tomato paste is ok, but pasta sauces in jars, tomato sauce, and ketchup are not.  Someone upthread mentioned Newman's, and I also think any organic sauce works.  You just need to make sure it doesn't have natural flavors listed.
Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: blarg314 on September 12, 2012, 06:24:55 PM

For pesto, you can use walnuts instead of pine-nuts, which can make it cheaper. The cheese is the last thing added, so you can keep some back for a vegan version.

For vegan sauce, I'd go with canned tomatoes and make my own, as I think natural flavours aren't usually added to the canned ones. For a simple marinara, use big cans of tomatoes, diced onions, garlic and herbs. For a more complicated sauce, add finely diced carrots, celery and onions, and for a meat sauce, start with sauteed ground beef or pork.

Title: Re: Pasta Feed Help
Post by: PastryGoddess on September 12, 2012, 09:11:57 PM
Beware of canned tomatoes as some of them are canned with tons of sodium.  I use one brand that I know by sight, but of course can't remember the name of.  *sigh* I am way to young to be having senior moments ::)