Can You Boil Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles?

Everything You Need To Know About Making Lasagna With Oven-Ready Pasta

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The simple answer to the question Can you boil oven ready lasagna noodles? , is Yes.  

But the next thing you should consider when making a classic lasagna dish, using rigid sheets of oven-ready pasta, is Should you?” boil them.   

I moved to Italy several years ago and learned directly from an Italian chef that there are a number of different techniques when using oven-ready lasagna sheets in lasagna or any other classic dish that requires any type of lasagna noodle.

Continue reading to learn the different ways to turn dry pasta sheets into a delicious Italian meal for a special occasion or a simple weeknight lasagna.

Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

Living in Italy for the past few years, I have learned how to cook like a real Italian.

One of the things I’ve learned is the cooking processes of both the dry pasta sheets available at your local supermarket and homemade lasagna noodles.   

Yes, you can absolutely boil your lasagna noodles – even the oven-ready type.  

I prefer to par-boil (partially boil) oven-ready dried noodles for lasagna for 3-5 minutes before they become “al dente”.  

Al dente is an Italian term that literally means ‘to the tooth’.   This is when any type of dried pasta is cooked just slightly underdone and finishes cooking in the saucepan with the pasta sauce.  

However, when par-boiling oven-ready noodles for lasagna you will want to only cook them for a few short minutes.  

Overcooked lasagna noodles will produce a lasagna with a gluey, mushy texture.

There are several purposes for lightly boiling dry oven-ready lasagna pasta before assembling a traditional layered-up lasagna.   

First, very slightly boiled lasagna pasta is easier to work with.  

Pre-cooked lasagna pieces are soft and malleable which makes building the layers of pasta sheets, meat sauce, bechamel sauce, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese a much easier process.   

The reason for this is that rigid lasagna pasta is often not the correct size for the cooking dish you are using.  

When you are forced to break hard pasta sheets into pieces, they often splinter into many small fragments, making a mess and causing waste.  

While par-boiled lasagna pasta, on the other hand, is easy to bend, cut and shape, making it a better option, in my humble opinion.

So, the takeaway is that not only can you boil oven-ready lasagna pasta, but you probably should for the best results.  

Now, although this is the recommended method by the Italian chef who taught me how to make lasagna, it is not a requirement to pre-boil your pasta.  

Next, we will look at the alternative method for time-starved cooks who simply aren’t able to take the time to pre-cook their pasta.

Cooking With Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

As their name suggests, “oven-ready lasagna pasta” is ready to go straight onto a lasagna dish with your sauces and cheese – no boiling water required.  

It’s understandable that waiting for a large pot of water to boil and then carefully stirring the pasta making sure not to boil noodles too long is certainly an extra step that many wish to skip.   

So, just as the packaging of oven-ready pasta tells you, this type of pasta can be used right out of the package, layered into a grid system, and baked in the oven for as long as the instructions suggest.   

A good rule of thumb is to bake your lasagna for about 1 hour (45 minutes covered in aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered to crisp and brown the top layer).  

These types of lasagna noodles are made with durum wheat and are specifically designed to be cooked without any sort of preparation.   

Some people opt for adding a cup of water to the assembled lasagna before putting it into the oven.

  The thought is that the extra moisture helps the lasagna to cook more evenly and when reheated the next day it is less dry.  

Another reason that adding a cup of hot water is practiced by some home chefs is that it keeps the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish when baking.  

Most of us agree that the top layer of lasagna should be crispy, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that the bottom layer should be dry and crusty.

Homemade Lasagna Noodles

Another type of lasagna noodle you can use is homemade noodles.  

This is the most authentic Italian option for lasagna.  

However, it is also the most time-consuming method.  

But like most things that take a long time, it is well worth the wait.  

You do not need to boil noodles that are homemade because they are already very soft and they will only get softer and more fabulous the longer you cook them.   

The preparation time, as well as the cooking times, are different when using homemade pasta pieces.  

You will only need to cook homemade lasagna pasta in a traditional layered-up lasagna for between 35 and 40 minutes covered in foil.  

Another good sign that your lasagna is ready is when it starts to really bubble.   

Next, add more cheese to the top, if you like, and cook under the broiler (the top of the oven) for an additional 10 minutes making sure not to burn the lasagna.

Homemade lasagna pasta is one of the best lasagna versions and is certainly worth attempting to make at least once in your lifetime.

My Favorite Lasagna Recipe From Naples, Italy

This delicious Classic Lasagna from Naples is a bit different from the Bolognese recipe you are probably more familiar with. 

Instead of Bolognese sauce, and Bechamel sauce, we’ll be indulging in the unique flavors of Neapolitan Lasagna.
 
Now, as with any traditional recipe, there are various versions of Neapolitan Lasagna, each reflecting the regional variations and personal preferences of Italian families
 
Some recipes skip the hard-boiled eggs, while others explore different cheese combinations alongside mozzarella and ricotta.
 
There’s even a spirited debate about the meat sauce, with some insisting on a mix of beef and pork, while others advocate solely for pork
 
The choice of meat cuts is also a matter of contention among enthusiasts.
 
But worry not, I will guide you through my cherished version of Neapolitan Lasagna which is sure to delight your taste buds.
 
So, let’s get started!
 
For this recipe, we’ll need a 13×9-inch pan. 

Classic Neapolitan Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients

 
Meat Sauce:
 
  • 8.8 oz (400 g) of sausage
 
  • 100 ml of red wine
 
  • 1 medium white onion
 
  • 1.5 liters of tomato passata (you can also use fresh or canned pureed tomatoes from your garden if that’s what you have on hand – be sure to cook fresh tomatoes a bit longer)
 
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
 
  • Salt to taste with sea salt
 
 
Filling:
 
  • 1.1 lb (500 g) of ricotta cheese
 
  • 7 oz (200 g) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
 
  • 14 oz (400 g) of hard mozzarella cheese
 
  • 4 medium eggs
 

Preparation Instructions

Step 1: 
Let’s start by preparing the pork sausage meat sauce. 
Remove the skin from the sausage and set aside.
 
Here’s a complete guide for making the best lasagna tomato sauce from scratch.
 
 
Step 2: 
Now, finely slice the white onion and sauté it in a large pan with the extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes. 
Next, add the sausage cooking on medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes while stirring regularly.
 
If you’re vegetarian or vegan you can leave out the meat completely or substitute it with tofu, mushrooms, or plant-based meat.
 
 
Step 3: 
It’s time to bring out the flavors! 
Pour in the red wine and let it simmer until it evaporates. 
Then, add the tomato passata, season with salt to your liking, give it a good stir, and cover the pan with a lid.
 
 
Step 4: 
Allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for at least two hours. 
We want the sauce to have a slightly liquid consistency, as it will aid in cooking the lasagna noodles later. 
If it seems to dry out during the cooking process, feel free to add a ladle or two of water. 
Once the sauce is ready, turn off the heat and let it cool.
 
 
 
Step 5: 
Boil four eggs for approximately 10 minutes. 
While they’re still hot, peel off the shells. Allow the eggs to cool, and then cut them into thin slices. 
Set them aside. 
Similarly, cut the hard mozzarella cheese into thin slices and keep them aside as well.
 
 
Step 6: 
Now, let’s prepare the creamy filling.
Take the ricotta cheese and place it in a bowl. 
Add two or three tablespoons of the meat sauce, and mix everything until you achieve a smooth and reddish cream.
 
 
Step 7: 
Take a 13×9-inch lasagna pan and spread a little meat sauce on the bottom.
This will provide a flavorful base for our lasagna and keep it from sticking to the pan.
 
 
Step 8: 
Place the first layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Then, generously spread the ricotta cream over the pasta sheets. 
 
Next, add a few slices of hard-boiled egg, and a scattering of mozzarella slices.
 
 
Step 9: 
It’s time to repeat the layers! 
Add another layer of meat sauce and sprinkle it with grated Parmigiano cheese.
Cover this layer with more lasagna sheets.
 
 
Step 10: 
Continue building layers until you run out of ingredients, ensuring that the final layer consists of only sauce, mozzarella, and grated Parmigiano.
 
 
Step 11: 
To keep the lasagna moist and flavorful, cover the pan with aluminum foil. 
 
Bake it in a preheated oven at 200°C (390°F) for about 30 minutes or until it starts to really bubble. (up to 45 minutes in some ovens)
 
Afterward, remove the aluminum foil and allow it to bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your preference for a more or less crunchy surface
 
Once it’s done, take out the lasagna and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
 
Now, my friends, it’s time to savor and enjoy your Neapolitan Lasagna!

Storage

If you have any leftovers (though I doubt there will be any), you can store the Neapolitan Lasagna in the refrigerator
Simply cover it with cling film or place it in an airtight container, and it will keep well for 2 to 3 days.
 
Alternatively, you can prepare the lasagna the day before, keeping it in the refrigerator covered with cling film, and then bake it the next day.
 
If you happen to have used fresh ingredients, you can even freeze the lasagna before cooking. 
Just remember to defrost it in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours in advance before popping it in the oven.

When Is Lasagna Made In Italy?

Traditionally, Neapolitan Lasagna is a dish that’s closely associated with the Carnival period, symbolizing a time of abundance before the penance of Lent
 
Often referred to as “Carnival Lasagna,” it showcases the richness of ingredients and is perfect for celebrating the most enjoyable time of the year.
 
While in Naples, Carnival lasagna is enjoyed all year round, it’s particularly cherished during the Carnival season, where it takes its rightful place on the table alongside the famous and delicious “Chiacchiere” dessert.
 
If you’re interested in learning some of the specific differences between the Italian Mediterranean Diet vs The American Diet, click here to read more. 
 

It's Always A Good Time To Make Lasagna

So, my friend, I hope you have a fantastic time preparing and savoring this delightful Neapolitan Lasagna.   
 
Now that you know the answer to the question “Can you boil oven ready lasagna noodles?” you are ready to make the best lasagna of your life!
 
Buon appetito!

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Author Info:

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan is a writer, designer & horticulturist. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "All Roads Lead to Italy" Magazine & host of the Top-10 Travel Podcast, "I'm Moving To Italy!". Nathan was born and raised in a 6th generation farming family in Northern California, he is currently, a dual Italian citizen, living in the Prosecco Valley of Northern Italy, near Venice.

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