My husband and I are pasta people — it's on our meal plan each and every week not just because it's an easy dinner, but also because we constantly crave it. As a dietitian, I've learned that I can make pasta a healthy, frequent meal if I watch the portion size.
If you've been lucky enough to visit Italy, you may have noticed that a serving of pasta is a bit smaller there, yet it still is incredibly satisfying, especially if it's loaded with plenty of veggies.
So what does a serving of pasta look like exactly? Here are the serving sizes of some of your favorite pasta shapes.
The Recommended Serving Size for Pasta
While the USDA states a serving size of all grains, including pasta, is 1 ounce, they understand that's not actually realistic since 1 ounce of dry pasta is just 1/2 cup of cooked pasta. Therefore, it's noted that the common portion size of dry pasta, and the recommended portion to shoot for, is actually 2 ounces. You'll see that number on most nutritional labels and it's the most sensible to go by.
Although 2 ounces of dry pasta is roughly 1 cup of cooked pasta, that number varies a bit depending on the shape.
Turning a Serving of Pasta into a Meal
Some lonely strands of spaghetti won't feel like much of a meal, but pasta is a canvas and you've got to add to it to make it satisfying and filling. Here are a few ways to make a serving of pasta truly feel substantial.
- Choose a hearty sauce: Super-satisfying sauces like a chunky bolognese, a rich Alfredo, or an eggy carbonara add richness and help make a serving of pasta substantial.
- Load it with veggies: Make vegetables just as much a part of the equation as the noodles and you've instantly bulked up your bowl with fiber and nutrients.
- Top it with a fried egg: Slide a fried egg on just about anything — pasta included — and it instantly becomes more satisfying.
- Don't forget the side salad: A simple green salad always helps to round out a meal. Make this easy arugula one once and it will become a recipe you can make by heart.
Spaghetti, Linguine, Fettuccine, and Other Long Pasta
Two ounces of any dry long pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, angel hair, or bucatini, is equal to 1 cup of cooked pasta. Since those long noodles can be hard to weigh or measure, the easiest way to cook this amount is to gather the dry pasta in your hand so that the bunch has roughly the diameter of a quarter.
Telephone cord-like fusilli is hard to go wrong with. Two ounces dry pasta is equal to 1/2 cup dry pasta, which comes out to be 1 cup of cooked pasta.
You get a little less orzo in a portion size because of its small, rice-like shape. Two ounces dry pasta is equal to 1/3 cup dry pasta. When boiled, that comes out to be 4/5 cup cooked pasta, or just shy of 1 cup.
Two ounces of the macaroni and cheese go-to is equal to 3/4 cup uncooked pasta. That comes out to be 1 1/8 cup cooked pasta, or a heaped 1 cup.