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May 16, 2010 08:18 PM

no boil lasagna fail- need tips

made bolognese lasagna with no boil noodles for the first time and failed miserably. parts of it were cooked well, but most of it came out chewy. i mean really chewy. upon layering i made sure all the noodles were covered in tomato and bolognese sauce. checked the lasagne at 45 min per instruction and the noodles were still hard so i ended up adding more time and checking it every 15 min. after 1.5 hrs i took it out since the part i tested was clearly done. i was so mad when i cut into it to find most of it layers of hard chewy pasta.

so i did a search online (should have done it before, duh!) that soaking the noodles may have helped. but my problem now is that i have a big pan of chewy lasagne and if there's anything i can do to salvage this?

if i put it in the microwave to reheat will it become chewier?

i made the bolognese from scratch and hand grated reggiano and the mozzarella and hate to toss all that work

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  1. We make lasagna all the time with regular noodles and we never boil them beforehand. Just have to make sure there's plenty of sauce (noodles absorb liquid) and cook it covered. Usually takes about an hour to cook.

    I'm not sure how to salvage. I would had more sauce and nuke covered.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater

      I never boil my noodles- even the ones that should be when I make lasagna. I do however pour about 1/2 cup of water around the edge of pan before it goes in the oven.

      1. re: vafarmwife

        Yep. That's more or less what I do too. I use regular old lasagna noodles and make sure that I add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the sauce.


        12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
        30-oz of spaghetti sauce*
        1 ½ cups water
        2 T chopped sun-dried tomatoes
        2 cloves of garlic, crushed

        Veggie filling:
        1 10-oz package of chopped spinach, thawed and drained
        1 8-0z package of mushrooms, sauteed
        1 medium onion, sauteed

        Cheese filling:
        1 15-oz container ricotta
        2 cups shredded mozzarella
        ¼ cup grated parmesan/pecorino/romano

        Chopped basil
        Grated parm

        1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil or spray a 9x13 in baking dish.
        2. In a large bowl combine sauce ingredients and set aside
        3. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, 1 ½ cups of the mozz and the parm. Set aside the remaining ½ cup of mozz.
        4. Mix the vegetables together in a bowl; and mix well.

        1. Spread a ladleful of the sauce on the bottom of the pan and tilt to coat evenly. Then lay in four sheets of the uncooked lasagna noodles and top with another ladle of the sauce and spread so that it’s lightly coated.
        2. Lay down half of the cheese filling and press down. Add one half of the vegetable mixture and then top with some sauce.
        3. Repeat the layers, and then top with the last four noodles, and dump the rest of the sauce on top. Be sure that it is entirely covered with the sauce.
        4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
        5. Remove from oven, take off the foil, and spoon some of the sauce over the top again. Then top with the remaining ½ cup of mozz. Sprinkle lightly with extra grated parm and a bit of basil. Bake for another 30 minutes.
        6. Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes before serving.

        *I like to make my own sauce and vary the vegetables, but this mixture of veggies is what I make most often.

        This recipe also works for a meat lasagna.

      2. re: mojoeater

        That's how I make my lasagna. What a disappointment, Trolley! I would salvage as Mojo said.

      3. I use Barilla no-boil noodles, unsoaked, without a problem but they may be thinner than some other brands.

        There's a group of restaurants in the Boston area, Comella's, whose specialty is "The Mess". This is a mixture of pasta (shape varies), tomato sauce, and cheese, to which an array of extras may be added, that is then topped with more sauce and cheese and heated (under a salamander, I think). It won't be pretty, but you could certainly break up the lasagna and slowly reheat it (microwave or oven) after mixing with a thinned-out sauce, then top with cheese and bake till it bubbles and browns a little.

        1. Microwave is the last place I'd put it; unless it was totally submerged in liquid. Microwave heat is too concentrated so it heats unevenly (without continuously rotating and stirring) so I'd expect it to exacerbate the problem.
          Heating it gently and then adding a simmering sauce to cover the noodles and allowing that to simmer together for about 10 minutes is the only method I'd try. Even then, no guarantees.
          The "trick" with "no boil" noodles is, IMO, making certain none of the noodle gets above the surface of the sauce. That's the reason I avoid them for lasagna. My family likes some crunchy brown noodle edges so I prefer to pre-cook them just shy of al-dente.

          1 Reply
          1. re: todao

            most microwaves today have a rotating platter. i think it might be the perfect tool, the only worry would be the cheese separating, so id go with a less than full setting for a longer time, rather than the reverse.

          2. I tried no-boil lasagna noodles (WF brand) a few months ago and had the opposite problem: the noodles were so soft and dough-y tasting after 45-50 minutes that the lasagna was inedible. But I know lots of folks who swear by the no-cook regular noodle method (as mojoeater says).
            Try adding more moisture to salvage, but I wouldn't get my hopes up . . . .

            1. Someone gifted me a couple boxes of lasagna noodles, some 'oven ready' and some not. I pre-cooked all of them (separate occassions) when I did make them. They all acted the same and turned out perfectly. However my sauce was :P once so I do have regrets.
              Lasagna has come naturaly to me, my mother hated any type of 'noodles' and had a hard time allowing us to eat them. The first time I made lasagna it was perfect, and I had never eaten it before, but I have a lot since, in restraunts and such just to see how its 'supposed to be' and I have it. I suppose I mention this because of all the things that are such a struggle for me in life, this was not.... Thanks for listening :)

              On the advice part, could you take out the noodles and serve just the sauce over another type of noodle, so it doesnt go to waste.