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Need Advice on Lasagne

c
ChrissyMc Feb 7, 2007 06:33 PM

My father asked me to make him lasagne. I've made it many times before, but it has always been eaten the same or next day. I'll need to freeze it for him, because he won't be able to eat it all within a week. I've heard that it freezes well, but is it better to bake it first, then freeze? Or freeze before baking? I will need to portion it out for him into several meals.Also, what do you think of no boil lasagne noodles? Thanks in advance for your advice.

Chrissy

  1. j
    jono37 Feb 9, 2007 05:43 AM

    Question: I like the style of lasagna found in Italy, with incredibly thin sheets of pasta. I think the only way to achieve this at home is to make the noodles homemade... even Italian dried noodles are pretty thick. If I make these very thin noodles at home, do I boil or not? In Alice Waters's Pizza/Pasta/Calzone cookbook, she says to boil, but I'm wondering if there are any other opinions. BTW, she also recommends leaving the bottom layer of noodles with edges dangling over the side, to be wrapped over the entire assembly to create a sort of package to hold in the contents and sauce. I tried this once, but the noodles were too thick and gummy, so it came out inelegant and difficult to cut.

    Thanks!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jono37
      Adrienne Feb 9, 2007 07:59 AM

      You can definitely make fresh pasta and bake without boiling. I've done this with ravioli and it turned out very well.

      1. re: jono37
        s
        Smokey Feb 9, 2007 08:46 AM

        Just a second for what adrienne said. I made lasagna for the first time a few weeks ago, and used homemade noodles. I just cranked them out fresh and layered them. No boiling, parboiling, steaming or anything else. The lasagne tasted great (if I do say so myself!).

      2. Karl S Feb 9, 2007 03:54 AM

        Barilla no-boil noodles are more like freshly made pasta in texture: thinner, more silken. I use them. Ronzoni no-boil noodles are more like the thicker, sturdier noodles Americans are accustomed to associate with lasagne al forno.

        Another approach is to use fresh wonton wrappers (square cut) from a local Asian market.

        1. c
          ChrissyMc Feb 8, 2007 03:00 PM

          Thank you all so much for your opinions and advice. Thanks for the idea about the extra sauce when freezing. My dad tends to microwave food to death and it comes out very dry. Hopefully, the extra sauce will keep it from drying out. Thanks!

          Chrissy

          1. d
            drobbia Feb 8, 2007 01:38 PM

            No boil noodles just dosent feel authentico. Definitely Bake,freeze and reserve a cup or so of the sauce for the reheating.

            1. heatherkay Feb 8, 2007 01:29 PM

              I've never had a problem with no-boil noodles, although I usually include spinach in my cheese mixture and I often assemble the day before and refrigerate.

              1 Reply
              1. re: heatherkay
                heatherkay Feb 8, 2007 02:02 PM

                I went back and looked at the lasagna I had at home -- it's actually "standard" lasagna that I just don't boil.

              2. m
                marlie202 Feb 8, 2007 01:09 PM

                wrap the lasagna in individual portions in aluminum foil and freeze them--when Dad wants one he can just pop it into the oven from the freezer and when reheated he has an individual delicious meal and Dad does not have to do anything but enjoy.

                1. Den Feb 8, 2007 01:05 PM

                  I have 2 reasons.

                  My lasagne recipe includes several different cheeses and I find that with baking it first and then freezing it the cheese tastes better. Second, If I'm spending the time to make the lasagne, I figure I'll throw it in the oven so I can heat and eat pieces easier at a later time.

                  1. c
                    charmedgirl Feb 8, 2007 12:48 PM

                    I find the complete consensus that baking first is the way to go very interesting! My mom always made lasanga in bulk and froze some, but she did it UNBAKED. When it came time to eat it, she would foil the top and put in the oven for like 45 to 50 minutes, then remove the foil and crank it up for the last 15 or 20 to melt the cheese and finish it off. Lasagna never turned out dry or anything, tasted just like the "fresh."

                    So, just curious, what's the thought process behind baking first?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: charmedgirl
                      x
                      Xine Feb 9, 2007 03:44 AM

                      I'm with you -- if we were freezing lasagne it wasn't baked first, and I think it tastes better that way. But that was to feed the whole family. If you want individual portions at the time the lasagne is going to be reheated/cooked, you can't do that before lasagne is baked or after it is frozen, so if you're going to do it, I think you need to bake, portion, then freeze. I guess you could get tiny foil pans and cut noodles into shorter pieces to fit, but it would be pretty difficult

                      1. re: Xine
                        c
                        charmedgirl Feb 9, 2007 05:32 AM

                        Oh I see! I forgot about the individual portion part. That does make sense to bake first, since as you point out, it would be difficult to portion pre-bake or post-frozen. Got it, thanks. :-)

                    2. chowser Feb 8, 2007 12:25 PM

                      I agree w/ the bake first. Cooks Illustrated has a recipe using the no boil noodles. You soak them in hot water before assembling. I like it better than using the no boil noodles straight.

                      1. c
                        cyberroo Feb 8, 2007 09:52 AM

                        You may also want to provide small portions of sauce for him - I find that frozen & microwaved lasagne sometimes needs a little extra sauce to keep it from being dry.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cyberroo
                          jfood Feb 8, 2007 10:03 AM

                          good point on the sauce. My new method is to place extra sauce on top of the piece while it is freezing on the cookie sheet. I also have noticed that it needs extar sauce when i reheat.

                          Another pointer is that sweet sausage could loose almost all of its flavor after freezing. When I do a sausage lasagne I use half sweet and half hot, take out of the casings and fry together. It takes about six 4-6" links for a 9*14 pan.

                        2. f
                          Fuser Feb 8, 2007 08:19 AM

                          I always bake first, freeze later. I also don't use no-boil noodles, but use regular dry noodles and add more fluids (sauce) and double the baking time. This works pretty well and is a lot quicker. Just make sure to put a lot of sauce on top and during the last 20 minutes of baking (I bake it for an hour) sprinkle with cheese. Zip-Loc freezer bags are the easiest way to store and freeze and it reheats wonderfully. I used this method when I made lasagna for my daughters wedding reception -- more than 100 people -- and it turned out great. Leftovers were frozen. Also, the cooler a lasagna is before you cut it, the better it looks -- it deosn't run all over the place.

                          1. LaLa Feb 8, 2007 07:48 AM

                            Agree with the bake, cool , then portion.I do this and have never had a problem.As I cool I cute mine with a large knife or a pizza cutter and it looks nice.

                            http://www.shoplateda.com

                            1. g
                              gourmanda Feb 8, 2007 07:44 AM

                              Bake, cool, chill, cut into portions and freeze. If you want to bake it in a smaller dish(es) you can line them with parchment paper with enough hanging over the sides. Then you can freeze the lasagna in the dish; when solid lift the parchment paper out of the dish and place in ziploc bag. In my opinion, no boil noodles are terrible. It's hard to get the sauce amount and baking time just right so that the noodles are cooked al dente.

                              1. o
                                odkaty Feb 8, 2007 07:43 AM

                                When I was in college Mom would bring me chunks of frozen lasagna (and the freezer at home was full too!) She always baked it with regular pasta, cooled (even refrigerated), then portioned into the small square tupperware. I let it defrost for an hour or so before putting in the microwave. It always turned out great!

                                1. jfood Feb 8, 2007 07:33 AM

                                  I make lasgne for freezing 3-4 times a year. I try to make my own noodles but not always convenient like this past weekend. Used bolied.

                                  But to the question of freezing. I use a regular 9*14 glass pyrex and bake the lasagne. I then eat for the first meal (chef's gotta try the goods) and then I cut the tray into eight large slices. You can freeze these, wrapped first in plastic and then in foil.

                                  I purchased a Foodsaver last year and I now cut into the slices and place on a cookie sheet to freeze for 1-2 hours. I then place individual pieces into the foodsaver bags and vacuum pack then seal. No freezer burn at all.

                                  1. Den Feb 8, 2007 07:01 AM

                                    When making lasagne I always make 2 trays of it using half sheet pan size foil pans. I bake it, cool it and cut it into 9 pieces. I then individually wrap each one. It takes only about 3 to 4 minutes to heat a piece in the microwave.

                                    1. Katie Nell Feb 8, 2007 06:46 AM

                                      The no-boil noodles are iffy, I have found- your lasagna needs to be very 'saucey', you know, something for the noodles to sort of swim around in, or they won't get cooked all the way through. My aunt made one with no-boil the other day, and we literally couldn't cut through the noodles with a fork.

                                      I prefer to freeze the lasagna before baking, but that's just me. It tastes fresher to me that way.

                                      1. s
                                        Smokey Feb 8, 2007 06:32 AM

                                        I just did this for the first time. Although i would have preferred to bake smaller portions and freeze them for later reheating, it's hard to figure out a good smaller container to bake lasagna in. Moreover, the noodles usually come in 'large' sizes not easily divided up into smaller pieces.

                                        So, I went with the 1) assemble in large pan, 2)bake, 3)cool, 4)cut into smaller portions (and I did what Quine suggested, making some portions smaller and some larger!) 5) put into inexpensive freezable container 6) freeze away for later reheating.

                                        I haven't yet reheated any of them, but I plan to just do it in the microwave. It won't be as nice as doing it in the oven, but I think it will be easier.

                                        (sorry, can't answer noboil question, I made the pasta fresh)

                                        1. King of Northern Blvd Feb 7, 2007 07:02 PM

                                          I love the Barilla No boil Noodles. They just make it all so much easier.

                                          1. Quine Feb 7, 2007 06:39 PM

                                            Bake, portion, freeze, that order. The no boil noodles are fine by me. But then, I usually do not boil my noodles first anyway.

                                            I also make some larger and some smaller potions, Cause sometimes you want alot and sometimes just a bit will do.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Quine
                                              hotoynoodle Feb 7, 2007 07:05 PM

                                              i'd bake smaller portions in disposable pans then freeze. cooked lasagne never divides in a *pretty* way, lol.

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                Adrienne Feb 7, 2007 07:07 PM

                                                I think that's a great idea.

                                                Definitely, definitely bake before freezing.

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