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Fresh Lasagna Noodles

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I'm throwing a big winter feast on Saturday night and since it is multi-course, I'm trying to prep as much beforehand as possible. I'm making fresh lasagna noodles, and would prefer to assemble the lasagna the day before, as I do when I'm using dried noodles (no boil or otherwise), but I'm worried that the fresh noodles won't hold up to sitting around in sauce for 24 hours. Are they too tender and perhaps might they just fall apart upon cooking? Or will they do okay?

Also, I'm using Mario Batali's pasta recipe (one batch of regular, and one batch of green, with spinach in the dough), and his recipes call for boiling the noodles prior to assembling the lasagna, but I would have thought fresh pasta wouldn't need to be boiled...I've seen other threads on this board about whether to boil or not and there are mixed opinions. I'd just hate to go to the trouble of making fresh pasta to have the finished dish not turn out right....any feedback or advice would be fantastic.

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  1. I applaud your efforts for making fresh pasta for your guests. Wish I had friends like you.
    Mr. Batali was using the noodles from the fresh state, just boiling them for 3-4 minutes, which is all it takes to cook fresh pasta. He was, most likely, assembling the lasagna and baking it straightaway. The pre-cooking of the fresh pasta very well may have to do with firming up the pasta (by cooking first) and preventing less absorption of sauce.
    My mom made fresh noodles and always let them dry for awhile before using. I do know that if you cook the noodles from a fresh state and assemble them for later baking, they will be, er, tender, and maybe not in a way you would enjoy.
    I've used frozen pasta sheets for lasagna and never had a problem with assembling them in advance. I did not cook the pasta sheets first, however.
    Let the noodles dry, maybe 20-30 minutes or so, before assembling the pasta, do not cook the noodles. Assemble as per your recipe. Everything will be fine.
    I never cook my lasagna noodles anymore, even the traditional dried ones (not the no-boil variety.) I make a little looser sauce to compensate for the dried pasta absorption. Since you're not baking the lasagna right away, let the noodles dry first. But I said that already.
    Enjoy your dinner!

    1. jfood has tried both ways and he prefers the cooked for 2 minute pasta for lasagne versus the non-cooked.

      1. I was taught from my mother and grandmother that when making fresh pasta for lasanga that you need to boil the sheets a few minutes, until they become pliable.2 to 4 mins boiling. then strain some of the pasta water and transfer to a big bowl or even your roaster depending on how much pasta you have and then add cold water, you will have some of the origional pasta water and the cold water which makes it lukewarm. Always work with the pasta in the water. you take your sheets, hand remove the excess water and then begin to layer the the pasta into the lasagna pan. Start with adding some sauce in the pan first then add pasta and lay sauce on pasta noodles... then sprinkle tops , pasta, sauce, toppings
        continue til you have reached just below you pan. Remember to layer you pasta crisscross
        in other words if you are using a 14in lenght and 8 width, you would start your first lay going along the 14in for the first layer then the second layer would be across the 8in part.
        This gives structure to you lasasgna when it is being baked and especially when you cut
        into it,. it stays in one piece rather then slipping around, remember to always cut two piece or more before you begin to serve. As for planning ahead, there is nothing wrong with making it the day before and refrig,, remember to first cover with plastic wrap then cover the plastic with aluminum foil. Remember at some point while baking the lasagna will begin to puff up , just take a fork and poke it around, this will deflate the situation......this is normal with fresh made pasta, sometimes it will need done a few times. don't forget to eventually remove the foil and plastic wrap and let the piece bake uncovered at the end. As a cookie sheet under your baking pan is a good idea to avoid spillage.
        I have tried all the different methods and always come back to the origional and athentic
        way of the great italain cuisine. Hope this is helpful Let me know how it turns out

        1. I've followed Marcella Hazan's directions in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It's about the way JFood says. Try to take a look at her recipe -- it comes out perfectly for me. I assemble it the day before and bake it the next day -- like I say, it's perfect.

          1. Thanks for the feedback! I think I will make the noodles today and let them dry and then store flat, and mix up all my fillings (sauce is already made), prep the cheese, etc, and just assemble tomorrow and I think I will take the majority advice and boil for a couple of minutes before cooking. I had never thought about the boiling being a way to "firm up" the pasta, but that makes a lot of sense.

            And heylids...you have just rocked my world with the criss-crossing advice. I've made lots of lasagnas, and never have I thought to do that (now revealing my all-consuming ignorance to the interwebs), but it makes so much sense, and lasagna with noodles all going the same way IS difficult to cut. And also, I will definitely bake the lasagna on a cookie sheet. I am notoriously for having things run over just when guests are arriving and then we all have to run around opening windows and positioning fans to get the smoke out of my tiny apartment with poor ventilation.

            Thank you!

            1 Reply
            1. re: EmilyE

              Oh, I meant that the starch grains in the pasta expand, gelatinize, increase in viscosity and become easier to digest, not that the pasta get firmer, obviously it gets softer. For that reason, I always think of fresh pasta as "firmer" in texture after it's cooked than it's texture when first made. maybe I should change my use of the word "firm."
              I wasn't really clear, sorry for any confusion.
              Let your lasagna rest for 30 minutes or so after coming out of the oven to set up, it'll be much easier to cut and serve.
              Have a good dinner.

            2. EmilyE, thank's for the compliment,,,rock my world...I love it....
              Don't be afraid to assemble the day before, trust me nothing bad will happen and it will be just the same as assembling it the same day...but it saves you so so so much time and work that you don't have to do the day of serving....also bushwackgirl had an excellent
              tip that I forgot to share, and that is rest your lasagna after coming out of the oven 20 - 30 mins. is good. She was also correct in saying that the noodles expand when you boil it a bit and will con't to expand when you bake it......Let us know how it turns out.