Pasta, once considered an Italian specialty, is standard American dinner fare -- a popular option for families and entertaining. It comes in an endless variety of shapes and sizes and is available at most grocery stores. Pasta is traditionally made with semolina flour, but newer varieties also include flavorful ingredients such as spinach, chives, garlic, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. These ingredients affect the flavor and appearance of the pasta, which might also affect the way you measure, cook and serve pasta for yourself or a family of four.
Measure dry pasta on a scale. One pound of dry pasta will serve four as a main course.
Use measuring cups or small-shaped pasta such as macaroni, cavatelli, penne or ziti if you don't have a scale. Four ounces of uncooked pasta is equal to 1 cup of dried pasta. This will yield about 2 1/2 cups of cooked pasta. Sixteen ounces of pasta will serve four people.
Bundle strands of long pasta, such as linguine, spaghetti or vermicelli, to measure enough for four people. A 1-inch diameter bunch of long dry pasta is equal to about 4 ounces of uncooked pasta and will yield about 2 cups of cooked pasta; a 4-inch diameter bundle will serve four people.
Measure cooked pasta using measuring cups. Eight cups of cooked pasta will serve four people.
Experiment with measurements if you're planning a pasta dinner for four. Fresh, uncooked pasta made with eggs is heavier than dried pasta from the grocery store. As a general rule, 1/2 cup of uncooked, freshly made pasta will yield one serving of cooked pasta, and 2 cups of uncooked freshly made pasta will serve four people.
- Drizzle olive oil over freshly cooked pasta before measuring to prevent it from becoming sticky.
Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.