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I am hoping to make two 3 quart casserole dishes worth of macaroni and cheese. The recipe I have calls for using two pounds of pasta, but doesn't indicate the volume of food that it will yield after cooking down, or after combining with sauce.

Assuming I will use either small shells or fusilli (haven't bought the pasta yet because I don't know how much I will need), how do i translate poundage of pasta to volume?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Because of the different shapes, different pastas will occupy different volumes of space both before and after cooking.

There are two answers that readily occur to me, one simple one more complex.

The simple solution, of course, is just to make too much. Cook your pasta, put in the casseroles with sauce or adding the sauce after, depending on your recipe, and if you have too much (you should, you planned for it) let it cool, add mayo, mustard, onion, some pickle relish and make pasta salad. Or throw in soup. Or ....

Option two is to measure your pasta by volume when dry, assuming that it approximately doubles in size. So you'll need to fill one of your casseroles with dry pasta, and that should give you enough to make two casseroles worth, once you have cooked the pasta.

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Thanks for how you phrased that, I found a site with dry to cooked conversions using 'doubles in size'; 2lbs = 8 cups uncooked = 16 cups cooked = 4 quarts cooked => I need 3 lbs for 6 quarts –  mfg Dec 11 '10 at 17:54
    
@mfg: Keep in mind that whether or not it literally doubles in size depends on how much you cook it. If you really need to fill those dishes then I would err slightly on the side of caution and make a little bit more than you think you need. On the other hand, the cheese will occupy a fair amount of volume in and of itself, so don't make a ridiculous amount either unless you have something you can do with the leftovers. –  Aaronut Dec 11 '10 at 19:36
    
@Aar @Doug I went with make a little too much, both of the pasta and the sauce. I made 3 pounds pasta (small shells) in a 4 quart pot. This gave me a nice control over size and when I combined the pasta and the cheese sauce to bake for 25 minutes the pasta expanded a bit in the oven (so it didn't have that too dense feel, nor over-cooked). –  mfg Dec 12 '10 at 3:19
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