Tip of the Day:
I noted in a number of recipes that you can make pasta ahead, when preparing for a party. I want to clarify that. Assuming you have chosen to make a pasta dish that is not baked…and if you are making the dish for a crowd….I would recommend you make the pasta just before your party… and reheating it. Although many cooks advise against it… I have never had a problem with it.
The reason I’m advising this… is that pasta for a crowd entails far more pasta than your normal 4-6 person meal. Unless you have a professional kitchen… which is doubtful… you only have one or possibly two large burners….it will take you forever to boil enough water to make the sufficient amount of pasta.
I made a wonderful buffet for a party I threw for my folks 25th wedding anniversary … it was terrific… everything went off without a hitch…except the pasta…. the menu included Chicken Marsala as the main entrée… served with pasta… we had about 30 people at the party… everything was completed and reheated in the oven… I needed to make about 4 pounds of Fettuccine for that crowd…. My Mother’s stove only had one really large burner… you can do the math… I had to make it in batches …..Even with cooking 2 pounds at a time in a very large pot and … waiting for the water to boil again…. I was in the kitchen forever… it really was the only hitch of the day.
The next time I threw a large party and made pasta… I made it ahead… about an hour before the party… I made it al dente… and kept it in a large metal serving tray in the oven and kept it warm… if you chose this method.. be sure to keep a little water in the bottom of the tray so your pasta doesn't dry out... not a lot of water just a little... before tossing with your sauce just prior to serving... drain again if necessary.
I also have reheated it by setting a large portion in a colander and setting the colander in gently boiling water for 30 seconds… you can do it in batches… and it won’t take very long. Don’t forget you are going to put hot sauce on it anyway if you make a pasta dish where the pasta is tossed with sauce just prior to serving.