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Lasagne...pre-cook noodles or ?

I have two packages of Barilla lasagne dried pasta noodles. One with the curly edges that you pre-cook...this is the one I have always used. One box you do not pre-cook. I want to try the ones you do not pre-cook and wonder if you have tips for ensuring success? I searched the board and one person suggested submerging in boiling water for a few seconds. One suggested adding extra water to the tomato sauce, covering with foil and baking...I don't like the sound of that idea.

If you have used these before please chime in with any suggestions for making sure this turns out. Or maybe I should just use the ones I am familiar with since I have friends coming for dinner and don't want the main part of the meal to not turn out well?

Thanks for you comments in advance!

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  1. Although I will probably be flamed for telling this, I never pre-cook lasabna noodles even the ones you are supposed to cook. All I do is let them soak in some hot water while I make my sauce. I always make my lasagna a day ahead. When I get ready to bake it, I just pour some water-maybe 1/2 cup around the edges ot the pan and bake it. Never have crunchy noodles unless it is an edge that I didn't get the sauce all the way to the edge.

    3 Replies
    1. re: vafarmwife

      I hope not - that is what I do! With plenty of sauce the lasagna noodles will cook up just fine.

      1. re: vafarmwife

        I do it the same way ,Yes some water does help especially if your sauce is thick .I also cover the pan with foil

        1. re: vafarmwife

          I don't even add water to my lasagna - I will top with a can of petite diced tomatoes if I feel it needs it - and never pre boil the noodles. I just use the fact that I don't even have an ounce of Italian blood running through me as my excuse ;) I'll cover with a bit of tin foil during the first half or so of baking.

          I actually did a taste test with a friend who thought I was mad for not boiling my noodles - guess what, he couldn't even tell the difference! We used the same sauce, cheese mixture, etc.

          I actually don't even buy special no boil noodles, I just use whatever. I don't think they need to be a special no boil variety. I've been doing it for years with a regular box.

        2. Many people have used pre-cooked noodles or not cooked the regular noodles and added extra water and such. Other people insist on the traditional approach. I'm somewhat of a traditional guy and I prefer doing things the detail oriented way so I always use the old tried and true method.

          You said that you do not like the idea of adding extra water so maybe just go with the regular way. How much effort and time would you save by this anyways? It's pretty simple, just throw the noodles in boiling water and let them cook.

          But hey that's just my 2 cents and I'm sure others have differing views. Bottom line is do what you are comfortable with!

          11 Replies
          1. re: drake0388

            It wasn't the effort involved that drove me to want to try the no-boil noodles. They look thinner and I thought might make a better lasagne than the rather thick, curly noodles. For example when I make ravioli I prefer a thin skin. Not sure if this translates to lasagne noodles or not...are they an improvement over the regular...does anyone know?

            1. re: Tripper

              Oh! Well I guess if you prefer a lighter noodle lasagna then they might work better for you. However I can tell you this- reserve your experiments for you and your family then take them to your guests once you know they work for you. I think it's a bad idea to make a meal for guests and go with something that you have not experienced or done. It's somewhat of a bad idea to try new cooking methods with guests in my view. I mean what would you do if it turned out poorly? Then order takeout for your guests?

              1. re: drake0388

                I agree- stick with what you know for guests. Experiment for yourself when guests aren't present unless you have a Chinese takeout or good pizza delivery nearby.

              2. re: Tripper

                Tripper, I really do like the flat no-boil noodles better. You're right, they aren't as thick. I got another brand (something Italian, can't recall the brand) from the DeKalb Farmer's Market a few weeks ago that was 'Bronze cut'. I looked that up, and found that this method makes a rougher surface on the lasagna noodles, and the layers don't slide apart. We'd already had dinner before I looked up the bronze cut, and indeed, the lasagna had stayed in one nice package on the plate.
                The no boil ones just seem less...flabby.. to me, if that's the right description.

                1. re: Tripper

                  Hi Tripper - I have made lasagne with the Barilla no-boil noodles several times and they always turn out great. When making a lasagne I actually prefer them over homemade pasta which I find becomes a bit gummy when baked. They are definitely thinner and makes for a lighter or more delicate dish (if lasagne can be made lighter - hah!)
                  I do put the noodles in tepid water in a pyrex pan for barely 1 minute first and then let them drain on a kitchen towel before assembling the lasagne. There is no need to add extra water to the lasagne or the sauce.

                  1. re: EM23

                    Thanks for your very helpful post...will do!

                    1. re: Tripper

                      Glad to help. Be sure to cover the noodles generously with sauce as this helps to cook them.

                      1. re: EM23

                        That's all it requires. Full coverage, no skimping on on the sauce especially, the top layer, and edges.

                      2. re: Tripper

                        I have been using the Barilla no-boil for several years now. Soaking them is totally unnecessary. The only time I do that is when making single-serving size lasagnes in small square dishes that require halving the sheets. They can be neatly sliced once they've softened a bit. These noodles are made with egg. They are more flavorful and tender than regular dry lasagne noodles. I also use them (soaked longer in hot water) to make manicotti/canneloni.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Greygarious, this is what I'm trying to make for dinner tonight - do I adjust cooking times, or do the individual dishes still have to bake for 50 minutes?

                      3. re: EM23

                        I too have used the Barilla no boil a bunch of times. They turn out fine and are so much easier and less time consuming. I long ago gave up on boiling lasagne noodles (gummy, hard to work with) and went with the soaking in hot water method. But generally I just find it easier and quicker to use the no boil.

                  2. I've used both kinds, and never boil any lasagne noodles these days. I have done vafarmwife's method of soaking the curly noodles in hot water, and that works fine, too. The greatest thing to me about not boiling them is that they don't shred. Adding extra liquid and covering the pan with foil is the way I usually do it. I take the foil off for the last 15 minutes or so to firm everything up.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                      Agreed, I always had trouble not shredding my noodles when I boiled them. Now I soak them in hot water and just make sure all edges are covered with sauce - I have not had to add extra water. Will never go back to boiling the noodles. Comes out great.

                    2. I make my own egg noodle sheets for lasagna but have had the Barilla no-boil at my sisters'. I don't know the vagaries of cooking with them, but they are so close to my homemade in texture and lightness it's almost not worth making them by hand--almost.

                      1. With homemade sheets of egg pasta, rolled very thin, I have made my meatless lasagna with and without cooking the pasta. Although it certainly gets done sufficiently without being precooked I do detect a slight gumminess that is not apparent with the precooked. So although it is extra work, I precook the fresh pasta for a minute to get the texture that seems best to me.