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Fresh Pasta in Lasagna?

After reading a zillion glowing reviews of the use of fresh pasta in lasagna, I gave it a go. The result was really delicious when fresh out of the oven, but once I put it in the fridge...soggy city! Lasagna is one of my go-to weeklong dishes, and whenever I use dry pasta, the leftovers are as good (if not better!) than the original. But each subsequent eating of the fresh-pasta-lasagna was less and less appealing.

As every review I read (and the pasta vendor) instructed, I did not boil the pasta before baking. I just layered it as-is, and baked as usual. Did I do something wrong? Was there maybe something wrong with the pasta? Or is fresh pasta just no good when it comes to leftovers?

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  1. I've never had that problem. But then again I can't stand the thickness and especially the ruffles on the dry/boiled pasta, it's too stiff and thick for me.

    I make mine with semolina which apparently not a lot of people do, and I roll it out more thick than if I'm making linguine or whatever. Or did you buy it already made, that's usually much thicker than I do. It could just be a matter of taste, or what you're used to, though.

    1. I use a combo of 1/3 semolina and 2/3 reg flour, thanks to some great thread on this topic a couple of months ago. I found the dried stuff from the box was well, just like the box. The home grown takes the same time as boiling water , cooking noodles, placing cooked noodles on waxed paper. Tes its a little more messy (flour around) but its a great trade-off.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        So you don't do the whole rinse and squeeze thingy? Boil, shock (yes?). Laying on waxed paper sounds like a good idea since it wouldn't stick. And I believe you freeze lasagne, don't you? On a related topic, can I make the bechamel hours ahead of time?

      2. Fresh pasta is not designed for leftovers. Its texture suffers. Dried pasta is more durable in a number of respects.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          I agree with you, Karl. In my experience, it kind of defeats the purpose of going to the work of making fresh pasta if you are not going to serve it the same day. While my leftovers with fresh pasta still taste good the next day, the original dish when freshly prepared, is *the* reason to go to the trouble of making homemade pasta.

          As for the original poster's dish, it sounds like you may have made your recipe without adjusting for the fresh pasta. Dried noodles, especially when used in lasagne, will soak up a LOT more liquid than either cooked pasta or fresh pasta. Perhaps you just had too much liquid in the dish for the fresh pasta to hold up over time. Given that it tasted delicious when it came out of the oven, I would think this was more the problem than the fresh noodles themselves.

        2. I find the dry, "no-boil" sheets are an excellent compromise. Very easy, of course. Much thinner and more suitable than those thick, ruffled things -- I've been able to get results that are similar to what I've had in Italy. And the leftovers are quite nice. The key is including the right amount of liquid for them to absorb while cooking -- more than you might think.

          1. I too use part semolina and I do boil mine before using. Usually leftovers are not a problem because there aren't any but if there are they are eaten thre next day with little deteriation. But it usually is not around for more than24 hours.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              so if i boil mine before baking it, will that make it 'sturdier' in the fridge?

              i LOVED the taste and texture of it when i first baked it, and if there's a way to preserve that, i'd love to know. i bake a whole pan for just the two of us, and we usually eat it on and off for about a week...so just 24 hours of holding up won't really do the trick for us.

              1. re: Candy

                I boil mine too and haven't had any problems. Usually, too, there aren't any leftovers, but we haven't had a sogginess problem. Maybe yours were a bit too thin?

                My biggest problem w/the fresh pasta is that it disappears if I turn around for even a sec. :b

              2. Interesting... does it not freeze well then? I was actually planning on making lasagna with fresh noodles this weekend and freezing some for part of my best friend's Christmas present! That could totally interrupt my plans!

                1. I have used egg roll wrappers for lasagna for many years and they work great, both for the first serving and the leftover phase. Extremely thin. Just use them straight out of the package with no boil. Do many layers. No need for extra liquid--in fact, mine start out quite dry. The dish turns out so nice because they are so thin.

                  They tend to dry out quickly in the air so keep them covered while assembling.

                  1. I've never had problems with leftover lasagna with freshly made noodles. In fact, I'm almost shocked to hear that so many of you have. Twice a year out-of-town friends stay at my place when they come to town for a biannual gift fair. Each time they come I make Hazan's Baked Green Lasagne, Bolognese Style because they adore it and it's easy for them to grab a quick meal (they sometimes even have it for breakfast!) when their schedule gets kerflooey. I've had it last for days. Yes, there's a bit of a change in texture, but I always attributed that to fact that they heat it up in the microwave. But it's still excellent and the pasta isn't the least soggy. And I've frozen leftovers as well with no major ill effect, although generally I prefer to freeze lasagna before it's been baked.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      Joan, would you mind posting that Hazan Baked Green Lasagne recipe? I'd be quite greatful!

                      1. re: desantmj

                        I really hate saying "no" to a request for a recipe, but starting with the Bolognese, then making the homemade noodles (and how will you do it? by hand? by crank machine? with a KA attachement?) and then putting together the lasagne, the recipe is maybe 10 or 15 pages long. Please forgive me. It's just not something I'd be able to paraphrase. I don't think the entire recipe is anywhere online, but perhaps you could find instructions for making the pasta and the Bolognese? If so, I would be happy to paraphase the making of the lasagne itself.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          Joan... is it just Marcella's regular bolognese from Classics? (I know of a link to that at least.)

                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            Yes, it is. Thanks, Katie. I'm off to a party tonight. I'll see if I can find an online recipe for the spinach noodles tomorrow.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Okay, I'm a loser at home on a Friday night ;-) so here is the bolognese recipe: http://www.e-rcps.com/pasta/rcp/p_abc... I'm actually making it right now!!

                          2. re: JoanN

                            Okay. I found a good Web site for the pasta part. The technique, by hand not processor, is the same as Hazan’s. The proportions for Hazan’s green dough are: 2 large egss, 1/3 package frozen leaf spinach, and 1-1/2 cups unbleached flour. The spinach should be cooked with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt until tender. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, squeeze it with your hands to remove all liquid. Chop fine with a knife (not in a food processor). Add the chopped spinach to the well of flour at the same time you add the eggs.

                            http://www.ochef.com/242.htm

                            Off to the opera this afternoon. I’ll try to get to the lasagne assembly either later this evening or tomorrow.

                          3. re: desantmj

                            desantmj, I paraphrased the lasagne instructions and am putting those instructions along with the links and info above together in one place on a separate thread on this board so it will be easy to find. Enjoy!

                        2. Best recipe I've seen for fresh lasagne pasta is 1/2 c. semolina, 1/2 c. whole wheat, 1/2 c. whole wheat durum, 1/2 c. unbleached white, 3 eggs, nothing else, no salt, no oil. Mix the flours well, make a well of it on a board, crack the eggs whole into the well and draw in the flour while mixing the eggs with a fork. Once the dough becomes workable knead for at least 10 min. If it seems too dry, that's better than too wet once it is time to roll it out and cut. As long as it holds as dough, it should be wet enough. Although wet is easier to knead and work, it's hell to roll out and cut.
                          Let it rest under plastic for a half hour then roll out pieces in a pasta machine to the thinnest or next to thinnest width. Dry the noodles then cut into lasagne shapes. Only takes a minute in boiling water to cook. Dry then layer the noodles in a casserole with the fillings.
                          Left over dish is really good, it may indeed be the ingredients for the pasta. Although Marcella swears by using only unbleached white, and I find most of her opinions right on, I completely disagree with her that semolina does not work for homemade pasta.

                          1. Realize this is from several years ago, but I have recently had the same experience. Delicious fresh out of the oven, a doughy, soggy mess the next day. Did you ever experiment and come up with a method that avoids this? My wife and I commented how this was the best lasagna we'd ever had. I made enough for lunches during the week and it was almost inedible. Very sad as it took 4 hours of love to make and now it's garbage.

                            My pasta was made with 3 egg yolks and one whole egg for every cup of flour. The flour was regular all purpose. I rolled the pasta through a pasta machine down to the next to thinnest setting. I have used these same qunatities and settings to make all kinds of pasta and never had a problem with it getting soggy after a few days in the fridge.

                            Thanks for any clues.
                            jb

                            1. I am italian, we always use fresh pasta to make lasagna. You have to do it this way: do Boil water, add salt, then place a sheet of fresh pasta and let boil for 30 seconds, no more! Then add the fresh pasta boiled in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking, recovered immediately and lay down on a clean cloth to dry and use it to make the layers.

                              If I was not clear even ask me what you did not understand, are not very good with English :)

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: cosmopolita

                                Grazie, il tuo inglese e molto bene.:-)

                                1. re: cosmopolita

                                  Tutto chiaro. Questa settimana provo anche.

                                  Mi dispiace per mi malle l'Italiano.

                                  Grazie mille,
                                  jb

                                  1. re: cosmopolita

                                    I'm really glad to find this thread as I'm going to make Hazan's green lasagne in the next day or two. She uses your technique and takes it a step further. She takes it out of the cold water and then gently squeezes each sheet. I think I read it described as like hand washing delicate clothing.

                                    When I first started reading this thread, I was really disappointed that OP had the particular problem. I want to share part of it with my elderly MIL and plan to freeze it in single serving portions. So thanks all who have weighed in.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Yes, but also Hazan says after brief boiling and plunging in cold water to then rinse the sheets in cold running water and then that's where the handing washing fine lingerie comes in. I think it's important to do it this way rather than just layering in fresh unboiled pasta sheets. My leftovers are terrific.

                                      I tried the fresh spinach recipe but mine came out slimy and were a lot of extra work so I have not tried it that way again. Did I do something wrong?

                                      I might try the easy way with won ton wrappers some time, as mentioned above by johnb.

                                      1. re: walker

                                        Ooh, I was going to do the spinach as I have some. Maybe someone(s) will weigh in on this.

                                        BTW, walker, we're going to be in SF from 12/27 to 1/2. Email me if you're going to be around.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I have never made Marcella Hazan's Green Baked Lasagna, but from Walker's post, I take it that the spinach was only boiled before using it in the recipe.

                                          I blanch my spinach layer for a few minutes (don't cook all the way through) in some salted water....remove the spinach from water and hand squeeze as dry as I posssibly can. Chop it up and sautèe in some butter and olive oil along with some onion and garlic before using it for the green layer. I prepare the spinach as I would for a side dish.

                                          Also, don't like the granular mouth feel of the meat in the filling, so I first make meatballs; slice them, then layer them in my lasagna dish.

                                          1. re: Lisbet

                                            Actually the spinach goes into the lasagne noodles themselves but, yes, are cooked first, squeezed dry, etc. I'm almost leaning away from that particular noodled today Since I've not made lasagne with fresh pasta before, I think I might be more successful with just a straightforward flour/semolina combo and save the spinach for another time. Thanks though. A spinach layer sounds good also.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              A pesto layer is even better....

                                              1. re: coll

                                                I'd like to try the pesto layer. Does anyone have any idea why my spinach pasta sheets (made with fresh spinach, thoroughly wrung out) were slimy -- I also think it was a lot of work and did not add flavor -- was pretty, tho.

                                                1. re: walker

                                                  How much did you use, I know it's supposed to be a spoonful or less. It's there just for color, not for any nutritional value.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    The Hazan recipe is 1/2# uncooked and then it's cooked, squeezed dry and added to the egg before adding the flour. It's a pretty significant part of the dough. I think that's the recipe walker used and the one I eventually decided on today Haven't cooked it yet so don't know if it's going to be "slimey."

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      I've made that recipe as written probably about a dozen times. When you're washing the cooked pasta as for "fine lingerie" as walker notes above, it's very slippery. Some might well describe it as "slimy" at that stage. But once the lasagne has been baked, the pasta isn't the least slimy at all. Trust her. Follow the recipe. It was a revelation to me, and friends to whom I've served it use it as the standard against which to judge all others.

                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        Thanks for weighing in, Joan. I'm still pretty dough-phobic but the pasta is made and I'll be making the bechamel in a bit. On my KA pasta roller, I couldn't get past a 6 and it was threatening to get "holey" on me. I just hope it doesn't fall apart in the boiling water Fingers crossed and I'll report back.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Joan, I'm dying from deliciousness. It IS truly the "standard." Every component was just right. I coaxed the noodles through so they didn't fall apart (I'd actually wondered if I'd undercooked). I made the bechamel with nonfat milk and it took forever but worked great. Thank heavens I already had the Bolognese made so that was easy. I probably did twice as much cheese but I never really know how to compare cheese done of the microplane grater to something larger. It took quite a bit longer to bake but I think that was because the bechamel sauce was thinner than it should have been. I wouldn't change a single thing about this. It was a perfect dish. Thanks for your support at the end; it mattered.

                                    2. I don't think Marcella Hazan's bolognese looks very interesting......no depth of flavor !!!!

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: LaGentille

                                        What recipe for Bolognese do you prefer? Would you paraphrase it for us?

                                        1. re: LaGentille

                                          Yes, please share your recipe. JoanN, I and I'm sure others would be very interested in trying it.

                                          1. re: LaGentille

                                            You might find this thread interesting:

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/331828

                                            A hound who questioned the recipe, but became a "convert" after trying it. There are lots of threads about her sauce, and there are certainly those who don't like it, but I'm not one of them. I usually make a double batch and freeze half of it.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              I've made a quintuple batch, which takes most of the day, but I'm sitting pretty for months now. When I made the green lasagne, the B sauce was already made. Hurray.

                                            2. re: LaGentille

                                              Since you have not tried the recipe, how do you know it has no depth of flavor.

                                              And if you have other recipes that have a deep of flavor that is great, please share.

                                              1. re: LaGentille

                                                You are so wrong! Her bolognese sauce is wonderful and complex and the green pasta and bechemel add creamy and delicious contrasting flavors. It has to be made with a good Parmesan and fresh noodles.