Feb 28, 2013

The Best Way to Cook Lasagna Noodles

Guest Writer:  Ruth Morse

Many years ago, I got an important cooking tip from my Aunt Esther.  (pictured)

This is the perfect time to share it with you!


Keep reading.


Put your dry lasagna noodles in a pan. That part may sound easy, but not all pans will hold a stiff lasagna noodle before it softens and bends. Make sure you find a pan that does fit the noodle. I happen to have a rectangular pan that does the trick nicely.
Fill the pan with water, cover and put it on a burner set to HI.

Hang around, watching the pan until it boils. If you get distracted and turn around even for 2 seconds, that will be the time the pan will reach a full boil and boil over. All over your stove top.


As soon as the water reaches a full boil, turn the burner off. Set your timer for 20 minutes. EXACTLY 20 MINUTES.

OK--you have options here.....
 My aunt said to leave the pan on the burner. Other versions I've read say to move the pan off the burner. But Aunt Esther was a good cook, so I listen to her. She's 97 now, so she has a ton of cooking under her belt.

When you hear the timer go off, don't dawdle. Got it? Get right there, carefully carry the pan of hot water and noodles to the sink and slip those slippery sticks into a strainer. I don't think you need to rinse the noodles, but go ahead if it makes you feel better.

That's it! Perfectly cooked lasagna noodles. Works every time, even if you are aiming for something healthy and using the whole wheat kind. By the way, those are even trickier to cook than the regular ones but they come out great using this trick. How do I know? I've done it many times.

Until yesterday.

I forgot.

Totally spazzed out and cooked the dumb whole wheat [a.k.a. cardboard] noodles the conventional way, by boiling them until they are done. There's the kicker. When are they done? Those whole wheat jobbies can go from stiff cardboard [texture AND flavor, by the way] to slimy glop in a matter of seconds.

How do I know?

They did.

There are no slick pictures of my yesterday noodles. Could not bring myself to document the sorry mess. But, trust me, this was a disaster. Could not get the noodles out of the water without breaking/shredding them. It was bad. The only saving grace is that this casserole was just for Jim and me, and, thankfully, he never noticed. I was even [applause here] making vegetable lasagna with lots less fat [i.e. lots less cheese and no meat]. Have to feel a bit like a hero here. Not only were we eating whole wheat noodles and broccoli and zucchini, the recipe called for a lot less cheese. A LOT less. Sigh.

Man, I'm hungry for real lasagna, tons of meat with maybe a touch of sausage in the mix, and so much cheese that you have to use a crane to get it out of the pan.
But. We have lots of leftover veggie lasagna. Yum.
...and one more thing......
uh, I'll get back to you when I remember it.
The Cheap Senior Citizen is a Guest Writer who shares helpful hints and results from her test kitchen.


Adrienne said...

I don't know if it works for the whole wheat kind, but for a few years now my mom has been putting lasagna together using uncooked noodles and extra tomato sauce, then baking normally. That saves having to handle the floppy, easily broken pre-cooked noodles, and you'd never know that she did it that way by the final product!

Hi from NYS, Val!

Poof said...

Hi Adrienne! Aw, I miss NYS. I've been hearing rumors that you could cook lasagna like that, but never heard from someone first hand. I'll have to try it.

Ruth said...

Yup, I have a regular lasagna recipe where you can do that. Love using the raw noodles and not having to precook them. But this veggie recipe says to cook the noodles first, and being ultra obedient, I do just that, wishing I had the nerve to try it with the uncooked noodles. Maybe some day I will be brave enough to try it!

Bobbi said...

I dont have a pot that these noodles fit in either. so I've found alternative ways to cook them. (Asked alot of old Italian woman I know) lol. I lay noodles out in a cake pan (crisscross the layers)n pour boiling (salted n oiled) water over them n let them soak about 20 mins. til just slightly still aldente. Carefully pour the water out, as much as you can without dumping out the noodles.
Nowadays they have 'no-boil' noodles, but i still dont trust them, and soak them the same way about 5 mins.

Larry said...

Hi Bobbi, I've done the above for quite some time, with excellent results. Same thing, my friend (Siciliana) had this odd trick for making Lasagna and suggested it to me.
Ciao, Lorenzo.