The Ultimate Guide to Pasta Portion Sizes
Let’s face it, we’ve probably all cooked – and then promptly eaten – too much pasta before. Whether it’s due to measuring a portion by eye, or just hangover greed, the end result is usually the same: a bloated, heavy feeling. Memories of this feeling might even contribute towards the (mistaken) assumption that pasta is fattening or ‘bad for you’. In fact, pasta is a complex carbohydrate that’s rich in protein, fibre and energy, we just often make mistakes with our portion sizes.
As pasta evangelists, we think pasta has a very important role to play in a healthy, balanced and happy life – it’s just about getting your portion size right. Here’s how.
What’s a serving of pasta in Italy?
When it comes to questions about pasta, it’s always wise to check in with the experts: the Italians. Pasta is a way of life in Italy, but that doesn’t mean Italians eat huge portions. In fact, Italians are very portion aware (in Italy, it’s quite common to be asked how much pasta you’d like to eat in grams) and they have strong views on the ideal pasta portion size.
Typically, Italian guidelines recommend the following quantities of uncooked pasta per person:
- 60-100g of dried pasta
- 70-120g of fresh pasta
- 100-130g of gnocchi
- 120-150g of filled pasta (like ravioli or tortellini)
The lower end of these ranges might seem a little small, but that’s because of the way Italians eat their pasta. Pasta is often served as a primo (first course), with a meat, seafood or vegetable course called a secondo coming after that. As the entire meal isn’t based around pasta, a smaller portion size makes sense.
How much pasta should I make per person?
If you’re planning on serving pasta as a first course, maybe for an Italian dinner party, then it makes sense to do as the Italians do and opt for a smaller serving. When it comes to fresh pasta, our Head Chef Roberta D’Elia recommends the following:
- A pasta primo for a three course dinner: 90g per person
- A pasta primo for a dinner with more than three courses: 70g per person
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t holding elaborate multi-course dinner parties every night. Here in the UK, it’s much more common to base an entire meal around one pasta dish – so a more generous rule of thumb is required.
If you’re having pasta as your main meal, we’d suggest the following quantities:
- 100g of dried pasta per person
- 120g of fresh pasta per person
- 130g of gnocchi per person
- 150g of filled pasta per person
What can I do with leftover cooked pasta?
We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s tempting to throw a pile of pasta into the pan without measuring it, particularly if you’re trying to use up the end of a pack. But if it turns out that your eyes were too big for your belly, you could be left with a mountain of uneaten cooked pasta.
Don’t waste your leftovers. Here’s two ways with cooked pasta:
Cooked pasta (whether fresh or dried) and sauce can be put into a freezer bag and frozen for up to a month. Just make sure your pasta and sauce has cooled to room temperature within an hour of cooking before you freeze it. When you’re ready to eat it, simply place the bag in warm water to thaw, then gently warm your defrosted pasta and sauce in a pan. From there, it’ll only be a matter of minutes before you’re indulging in a hearty ragu or a creamy carbonara.
Frittata di pasta
Leftover cooked pasta and sauce, particularly spaghetti and tomato sauce, is perfect for a frittata di pasta. A popular dish in the southern Italian region of Campania, frittata di pasta is essentially just leftover pasta and sauce that’s mixed with eggs and cheese, before being fried to create a crisp frittata. It’s more of an idea than a recipe – so you can easily customise it with whatever pasta, sauce or cheese you have to hand.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 423 kcal
- 200g cold spaghetti (plain or with tomato sauce)
- 3 eggs
- 40g grated parmesan or pecorino
- 40g diced mozzarella (optional)
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil, for frying
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Break your eggs into a bowl and whisk.
- Add the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper, then whisk again.
- Add the spaghetti (and sauce if using) plus your cubed mozzarella, and stir until the pasta is well coated with egg.
- Heat your olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then tip the mixture into the pan.
- Press down on the mixture to even it out in the pan, then fry over until relatively well-set and golden on the bottom (5 minutes).
- Use a plate to invert the frittata, then add it back to the pan (uncooked side down) and fry until the bottom is golden.
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.