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Ask The Chef

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I always seem to have trouble making lasagna from dried noodles because I over cook them. Can you give me some guidance in how long they should be boiled before assembling the lasagna for the oven baking? Is it correct that fresh pasta doesn’t have to be boiled? If not, for how long should it be boiled?

Joe from Detroit

Although there are some dry pasta noodles that claim on the package that they do not have to be boiled, I recommend always boiling dry pasta. The no-boil noodles taste too chewy. To boil noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add lots of salt. Add the noodles and cook al dente, about three-quarters of the way. Drain and refresh the noodles in an ice water bath, so that they do not continue to cook. Drain again and dry the noodles with a cloth towel (so that extra water is not added to the lasagne). Coat the noodles with a little olive oil so that they do not stick together. Now they are ready to assemble.

Because dry lasagne noodles need to be boiled, it is actually easier and tastier to make lasagne from fresh pasta. Fresh pasta does not need to be boiled before layering and baking.

Fresh Pasta

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • water as needed

Mix together the egg, egg yolk, flour, and olive oil. Add enough water to bring the dough together. A slightly sticky dough is better than a dry dough. Using a pasta maker set on the widest setting, roll the dough through. Dust with flour when necessary. Fold the dough in half and roll again, and repeat five more times until the dough is smooth and elastic. This process kneads the dough. Now make the dough thin by passing it through all the settings on the pasta machine. After the last setting, the dough is so thin that you can read a newspaper through it. This thin and delicate pasta is ready to layer in the lasagne.

Brush up on your pasta-making skills with My Favorite Pasta Time on March 31 or Endless Pastabilities on May 14.