How to Cook Lasagna Noodles: The Novice Version

by | Jul 28, 2011 03:43 PM ET

Last week, I attempted to make my first lasagna. No particular reason I'd never tried to scare up a lasagna from scratch before, it had just never really crossed my mind. I was short on kitchen staff during the majority of the process, but I did have some preflight assistance. Unfortunately, much of that helpful chopping went largely forgotten after the Great Noodle Screw-up of 2011 went down.

All in all, the overall lasagna creation process went OK, but not as well as I could have hoped. I'm not really sure what went wrong. The nice lady who supplied the recipe to said to use 2 (12 ounce) packages of lasagna noodles -- which I did -- although 90 percent of those cried their way right into the garbage disposal after they literally cemented themselves together during the boiling part of the process. The kicker was that even after those casualties, I still had enough pasta to make a pretty decent lasagna. How? Well, that's the part that's still confusing me ... But regardless of whether the recommended amount was appropriate or a little excessive (Perhaps other people believe the goodies in between each layer of pasta should be laid down more sparingly?) I figured before I give it another shot, I should do a little more research into the art of preparing lasagna.

Cooking lasagna noodles does indeed require more finesse than simply chucking them in a pan of boiling water and hoping for the best. I probably should have anticipated this, as I stared quizzically at the heap of half submerged pasta strips for a moment, but I simply shrugged and moved on. That was bad.

Most people, it turns out, spend a little more time on this part of the process, although there does not seem to be a consensus on what the ideal method is. In this video, the guy puts them in a couple of sheets at a time, and he has olive oil in his boiling pot of water as well. As another method, I thought this recommendation was clever. They suggest using a toast rack to keep the lasagna noodles from sticking together. All of this is mostly moot, however, since I also stumbled across the magic of oven-ready lasagna noodles in my search for pasta perfection.  Easy Peasy. Now it just looks like I need to hone a comprehensive process that works seamlessly for me.

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