Can You Substitute No Boil Lasagna Noodles For Regular

(Except After Ice Cream)

Occasionally, I come across a recipe that’s pure gold. One of my favorite things about cooking is searching for good recipes; there’s nothing better than that first bite of a dish made from an untested recipe and realizing you’ve made something delicious! Then comes the scary second cooking of that dish! Will things work out the same this time, or was the first attempt at success a fluke?

Linda’s Lasagna (bless you, Linda!) was one of my early finds. I’ve made it at least five times for various party occasions, and it was unfailingly a hit. Two other friends made it with the same success. The recipe worked for me time and time again, until…I accidentally grabbed a box of no-boil, “oven-ready” lasagna noodles instead of regular noodles (the ones you need to boil first).

It was a disaster. My lasagna was chewy with crunchy bits instead of al dente, which is perfectly cooked and neither too soft nor too tough. The worst layer of noodles was at the top, all curled up and rigid as a board. Every bite made me cringe, and I writhed in embarrassment whenever one of my dinner guests insisted that “it’s good!” It’s not. I’m eating it too, you know. Stop lying to me.

My lasagna sauce was simmering on the stove today when I realized, horrified, that I had once again picked up a box of oven-ready noodles. Panicking, I turned to Google for help. Remarkably, there weren’t many articles explaining what to do in this circumstance. Few solutions, but many complaints. Many others have experienced the same problem and switched from oven-ready noodles to regular noodles that need to be boiled.

Here’s what I gleaned from the Net:

  • Cooking regular lasagna noodles can be messy business. As they boil, you must periodically stir them because they may stick to one another in the pot. They cook in about nine minutes, depending on the brand. After cooking, you must immediately separate them and drain them. They will stick together in the strainer and will undoubtedly tear apart if you attempt to remove them.
  • You might assume that “oven-ready” implies that you can put the lasagna together and bake it right away. Not at all! There are steps to take to prevent an undercooked, dry-noodle disaster unless your recipe specifically calls for using oven-ready noodles, which most do not. These steps cut your sauce cooking time in half, but they add thirty minutes to the noodle preparation. This indicates that using oven-ready noodles for most recipes requires roughly the same amount of time overall as using regular noodles. Plus, you won’t have to clean up an extra pot.

First of all, no-boil noodles are typically much thinner than regular noodles. It makes sense because that allows them to finish cooking while the lasagna bakes. But theres a secondary payoff there, too. No-boil lasagna mimics the original lasagna’s texture because it was made with delicate, tender sheets of freshly made pasta. Naturally, the delicate egginess of authentic handmade pasta will not be present. Sometimes it’s just about baking up a rich, bubbling casserole of pasta, sauce, and cheese with as little extraneous effort as possible, but we’re not after that right now, are we?

Now that you know this, there’s officially no reason why you shouldn’t make lasagna. Actually, shouldn’t you be putting one in the oven at this very moment?

However, I am here to inform you that there is an alternative. Not only are no-boil lasagna noodles a handy way to get piping hot lasagna, but they taste much better than the traditional, frilly-edged kind that you have to cook before using.

Before you try it, keep in mind a few things: first, no-boil noodles require a lot of liquid to cook through. Thus, make sure your sauce is thick and saucy—it doesn’t have to be thin. Additionally, make sure that every noodle is covered in sauce or ricotta cheese—if it’s not, it won’t cook. Additionally, adhere to the baking instructions on the package regarding the covering and uncovering of the lasagna to ensure proper percolation and beautiful browning.

It is a well-known fact that lasagna is extremely difficult to make. You’re most likely simmering your own sauce if you’re making it from scratch. Prepping at least two kinds of cheese. Maybe making béchamel. And definitely boil those lasagna noodles—they have a tendency to tumble around when you drain them, clinging to your skin and making you feel awkward as you try to arrange them into neat sheets to layer.

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