One box of spaghetti

How many people can you feed with one box of spaghetti?  Or to rephrase that, how far will one box of spaghetti go?  When I was growing up, my mom fed nine of us with one box of spaghetti.  She usually cooked capellini, I think because the strands were thinner and it looked like we had more on our plates.  (Think about it…one fat spaghetti strand or 3 skinny ones.)  The spaghetti was often topped with Ragu (Italian cook she is not), but it became a real treat when Dad harvested his tomatoes and made his special sauce.  However you top it, even with a big salad and a loaf of Italian bread, it is still an impressive feat to feed nine from one box of spaghetti.  Since Mom was always saying things like, “The Lord will provide” and “Consider the lilies of the field…,” I’m guessing that we were experiencing a “loaves and fishes” miracle on a regular basis. My brother Matt will argue that we just weren’t getting enough to eat.  Mom will counter-argue that at least she had no fat children.

So we all grew up and fed our own smaller families with single boxes of spaghetti.  One box was quite sufficient for my family of five.  As boyfriends came along, I was tempted to add another box but restrained myself.  Now the girls are all married and I have to adjust my cooking  quantities.  This is psychologically complicated.  The logical side of me says to get one of those spaghetti serving size things and cook two servings (ok, three so John can have seconds).  But that other unexplainable side of me does not really trust that the nest is empty.  Someone…or two…or three…will pop in and I must have enough food.  And so I cook the whole box of spaghetti.

The other night I sautéed some onion, a yellow squash, a red pepper, some tomatoes.  I mixed them with spaghetti and tossed it all with some tapenade and cubes of feta.  Mmmmm.  It was quite satisfying.  In fact, John was so satisfied with his first (large) helping, that he didn’t even need seconds.  Night two, John grilled chicken breasts.  We topped the chicken breasts with tapenade (oh la la!) and served them with the leftover spaghetti.  Day three, I am still staring at a bowl of spaghetti that could feed a third world country.

This brings me back to my original question…how far will one box of spaghetti go?