lasagne - help me figure out how to make ahead
I want to make 2 lasagne for a dinner party, with home-made noodles. I would love to prepare ahead as much as possible - I actually would love it if I could start a week early, since I have lots of time this weekend.
Should I make the entire lasagne, bake them, freeze them, then reheat for the party?
How about making all the elements and assembling the day of or the day before?
Is it possible to make nice, thin, homemade noodles a week in advance without baking the lasagne and freezing them?
Any tips would be appreciated.
By the way, I plan on parboiling the noodles before I assemble the lasagne - that's what I've done before, and they come out really silky and delicious that way.
I make ahead and freeze lasagna all the time, and it comes out great. But I use commercial lasagna noodles. I have dried overnight, then frozen, homemade noodles, and they have come out fine, too. But I've never used them in anything that I've frozen.
I don't think sauce and lasagna taste as good after freezing. Recently I made a fresh pasta (I made the dough, etc.!!) lasagna. I made the sauce a couple days ahead and refrigerated; day before I assembled everything, next evening, baked it while I made and served the salad. I thought it came out perfect. I used meatless sauce (meatballs were on the side) and put ricotta, cheeses, and homemade pesto.
I would recommend making the sauce up to a week in advance and freezing it, then defrost it when you a ready to assemble day of/day before.
Freezing cooked lasagne and then reheating can have mixed results. I've noticed that if you don't keep a close eye on it or reheat for a longer period at a lower temperature then the lasagne can be prone to drying out a bit, and the top and look a little worse for wear.
But I think making the sauce in advance then freezing it is more successful than cooking the sauce the day of - I think that the 'ageing' of the sauce makes for a better flavour.
Make and assemble the lasagne, but do not bake them. Lasagne freezes perfectly fine uncooked, and you can put it directly in the oven from the freezer. Cooked lasagne doesn't tend to freeze very gracefully.
You can freeze before baking too.
And I've made with fresh homemade pasta and did not boil the noodles first. Save the time.
I freeze unbaked lasagne with homemade, parboiled, noodles all the time. If at all possible, I thaw the lasagne in the fridge; in my experience it takes about 24 hours. I find (1) reheating already baked lasagne overcooks the noodles and that (2) baking the lasagne directly from the freezer also tends to overcook the noodles. Thawed, and taken directly from the refrigerator, I bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer than I would if the lasagne had been freshly made and, if it seems to require it, at a very slightly higher temperature--perhaps 25 to 50 degrees F.
Only once did I try drying the homemade noodles before cooking them. Maybe my noodles were too big or the pot was too small, but they broke when I went to cook them and decided the amount of time saved wasn't enough to justify doing it again.
I also make and freeze the Bolognese sauce ahead of time. No deterioration in flavor whatsoever.
I am making a spinach ricotta lasagna that instructs to line the baking pan with foil first,
cover the uncooked lasagna with remaining foil then plastic wrap to keep from freezer burn. I am worried about the foil sticking to the lasagna when it is being served. What is your secret to freezing the uncooked lasagna? I am making several trays for a grad party. Thank you for any help in this matter.
I'm not sure why the recipe instructs you to line the pan with foil unless it's just to aid in the cleanup. I've never done that. When I've finished making the lasagna, I cover it first with plastic wrap and then with foil. Just seems to make more sense to me. After the frozen lasagna has thawed in the fridge, I remove both the foil and the plastic wrap before baking because I want a bit of a crust on the top layer. (You could, if it seems the top is getting too dry or too brown, just lay some foil loosely over the top.) Since the foil is used only while the lasagna is in the freezer, there's no sticking issue. This, at least, is the way I've done it--many, many times. And it always comes out of the oven tasting as though it's been freshly made.
Definitely can be done either way: Freeze them unbaked or freeze components ahead (not noodles) and then assemble ahead and cover well and keep in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a day ahead.