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Fresh pasta for lasagna, boil or no?

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I made a lasagna this weekend with fresh home made pasta. I did not boil the pasta before building the lasagna. It turned out great, but I'm always looking to fine tune a recipe. What do you do?

Also, how thick do you make the pasta for lasagna? I have a machine and went down to setting 8, which is one short of the the thinnest setting. My only complaint is, upon reheating the next day, the pasta was so light I was hardly able to taste it.

Grazie,
jb

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  1. Preparing fresh pasta for lasagna I would not boil it first. I handle dried pasta differently however. I would agree that your setting for the pasta machine was too thin. Back it off two settings and I think you'll like it better.

    1. I don't boil my fresh pasta sheets for lasagna. I like it a bit on the medium end of the settings.

      One thing that you can do is make more pasta sheets when you make them than you need and freeze. You can use the sheets frozen which is nice.

      1. I follow the Marcella Hazan recipe for lasagna - she makes hand made lasagana - and then suggests just blanching the noodles for a few seconds and place them immediately in an ice bath and then wrings them dry like fine washables, drys them and then prepares the lasagna - I find this lasagna to be the best I have ever eaten!! It is practically like pastry. It is very labor intensive but the result is true perfction.

        15 Replies
        1. re: howchow

          How thin do you roll the pasta howchow? Which setting that is?

          1. re: cinnamon girl

            I, too, have used Marcella Hazan's recipe. It's the way howchow describes. I think she says to go to the next to thinnest setting. I like her fresh pasta recipe the best of those I've tried. Even tho this lasagna is A LOT of work, it is so worth it. It's also great that you can do all the work the day before and just have it waiting in the fridge to finish off for your dinner party. (I use Mario Batali's red, very deep lasagna pan -- I love it.)

            1. re: walker

              thank you Walker and Howchow. I love the kind of lasagna that has loads of very thin layers so this could be the recipe for me!

            2. re: cinnamon girl

              I either use the thinnest or second to the thinest setting on the pasta machine.

            3. re: howchow

              I have to borrow this one from the library... never heard before of wringing out pasta!

              1. re: Allice98

                Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

                1. re: Allice98

                  Hazan says to rinse them like you're rinsing out fine lingerie and then dry the sheets on clean dish towels -- I used every dish towel and all my counter space when I made this.
                  It's sooo delicious.

                  1. re: walker

                    Do you have problems with them sticking to each other? It's one reason I don't boil them first because I don't want to deal with that.

                    1. re: chowser

                      if you place 2-3 at a time into a large pot of salted boilin water this should not be a problem.

                      1. re: jfood

                        Thanks, I'll try it that way next time.

                      2. re: chowser

                        Do you have a spider? I use one to fish out the pasta.

                      3. re: walker

                        Hi, walker. So "rinsing out fine lingerie"? Is that like just dunking it up and down in the water? No wringing, right? No squeezing either?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Marcella says: Set a bowl of cold water near the range, lay some clean, dry cloth towels flat on a work counter. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rapid boil, add 1 Tbl salt, and as the water returns to a boil, slip in 4 or 5 of the cut pasta strips. Cook very briefly, just seconds after the water returns to a boil after you dropped in the pasta. Retrieve the strips with a colander scoop or slotted spatula, and plunge them into the bowl of cold water. Pick up the strips, one at a time, rinse them under cold running water, and rub them delicately, as though you were doing fine hand laundry. Squeeze each strip very gently in your hands, then spread it flat on the towel to dry. When all the pasta is cooked this way, spread out to dry, pat it dry on top with another towel.

                          She says you must rinse the starch off.

                          CH turned me on to this cookbook -- it's detailed and I'm glad I bought it.

                          1. re: walker

                            I have the book but we're out of town right now. Golly, I never meant for you to type all the up. But thank you.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I typed it at 4 am when I returned home from work -- and no typos!

                              I did it because I thought the info useful for all the people who read these posts. Maybe they'll buy the book. Homemade lasagna w/fresh pasta is so much work but so delicious.

                  2. I've done it both ways and they both work, but not boiling is easier! Don't boil. I liked my fresh pasta sort of thick for lasagna. Mine goes to 7, I think and usually used a 5 or a 6. But it varies a bit based on the stiffness of the dough.

                    1. I don't boil. I use fresh pasta that I can buy already in sheets, then just cut to my pan size. They tend to be a tiny bit thick, but absorb a lot of sauce that way, and still come out al dente. I also prepare it a day ahead to meld the flavors. Sometimes use extra bechamel or whatever sauce I'm using so it's not all absorbed before it goes into the oven.

                      1. jfood started with the Hazan recipe and then wanted a bit more of a bite. So now uses 1/3 semolina flour and 2/3 white flour. He mixes it and lets it rest for an hour before using the machine. He also takes it down to one less than the thinnest setting.. He does boil the noodles for about 1 minute just to give them a little poof before constructing the lasagne.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          I boil freshly made pasta, just for a half a minute to "set" it -- and when I make it, I use setting no. 5 on my 7-setting machine.

                          jfood mentioned an important step in pasta making -- allowing the dough to rest! That's the trick to getting a good 'bite.'

                          1. re: jfood

                            Aha! Your semolina trick again. Starting to cool off at Tahoe and I'm getting in the mood for more Italian.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              the jfoods just returned from 11 days in italy. now that is inspiration for some great pastas and pizzas.

                          2. Yes, in Italy we boil but only for 30 seconds, not more!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cosmopolita

                              I made a couple lasagnas using fresh pasta from a local pasta store, I cooked one right away and put the other in the freezer for later use. I didn't boil the noodles and the one I cooked right away came out fine, but with the one I froze, the noodles disintegrated into a gluey mess after I cooked it. I'm wondering if I had boiled the noodles it would have "set" them and prevented this from happening. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

                              1. re: gmm

                                From walker's comments above, it sounds like the starch needs to washed off. Certainly sounds like that could have been the problem with your second one.

                            2. Thought I'd add a follow up. I made the lasagna again and boiled as per Hazan's instructions. A minute or so in the water then into an ice water bath. Turned out great. and will always boil when making lasagna with fresh pasta.

                              Buon appetito,
                              jb