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Lasagna with Fresh Pasta

post #1 of 124
Thread Starter 

I've been making fresh pasta for over a year, but have never used it for lasagna or another baked Italian dish.

My question is do I need to boil the freshly made pasta before using it in the lasagna?  I've searched the web and have seen; boiling is required and boiling is not required.  Which is correct?

Thanks.

post #2 of 124

You need not boil the pasta. Just make sure the sauce is more runny then usual to absorb the starch.

Store bought pasta need not be cooked first as well.

post #3 of 124

You absolutely should boil the pasta. I had heard that many people do not and gave this method a try. I was not happy with the result. As for the correctness of the technique, maybe one of the resident Italians here can shed some light. Anyway here is my experience...

 

1) The texture was not right. I have a feeling that liquids from the sauce began to eat away at my fresh pasta before they were hot enough to cook the sheets. (I suppose if I had used hot ingredients this wouldn't be a problem?) Also, the edge peices didn't come out crispy. There always used to be fights over the corners at family gatherings cause everyone wanted as many crispies as they could get.

 

2)The machine I use (Imperia Restaurant) makes the sheet a lil bit smaller than the width of a standard hotel pan. When cooked, the sheet fits perfectly. No cutting or overlapping. This one probably only applies to satisfy my own anal retentivness, but I don't care it makes me happy.

 

I have found, at least with my own fresh pasta, that it wants to be cooked very fast. I get the best result when the water temp does not drop very much & cooks the pasta very quickly. If I overload the pot and it takes too long to boil again they will be mushy. Can someone explain this? was my thinking above correct?

 

Remeber to shock the cooked pasta & dry it between some dish towels. Esp having to dry the sheets is kinda tedious but it is a very important step that I just can't find a way around.

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #4 of 124
Thread Starter 

Thanks Chefross and Sparkie for your comments.

My pasta machine is Marcato Atlas150 and it has done me well for home applications.  I don't have access to a commercial grade machine.  frown.gif

 

I'm making a veg lasagna this weekend so it should have more moisture than a meat lasagna.  I think I will boil and stock the noodles before assembling the lasagna.

post #5 of 124

Either way is acceptable however when using pasta sheets without precooking make sure you have added mor sauce to the layers as the raw pasta as noted above will absorb more liquid.  I would suggest not cutting into noodle form but leave in sheets that fit the pan you will cook the lasagnsa in. In many a case I prefer starting with raw as a lot of places over boil and then bake . Therefore it is overcooked. I always cook my lasagna covered till the last 15 or 20 minutes then uncover.

Let cool then cut in portions and heat in additional sauce over it  for service.  It taste better next day anyway , the flavors marry .

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 124

I make my own lasagna noodles and I don't boil them first. I make the noodles, cut them to size, then lay them out to dry for half an hour or so before assembling the lasagna. Then I make it the same way I would if I were using parboiled commercially made noodles. It tastes so much better, and the texture is better, with the homemade noodles!

post #7 of 124

Wow. Lots of love for the raw sheets! I must admit that my confidence is shaken a lil ;-)  Talked to some of the Italians I know & a few of them admitted that although it is a tempting idea to skip the whole pre-cooking part, none of them had ever done it. Of course they are all form the same place (San Marino) so I should expect the same answer.

 

Never thought about letting the sheets dry before using them. Thanks, that gives me something to think about. May have to experiment some more. I'm always looking for ways to make my work more efficient. On the other hand if it ain't broke...

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #8 of 124

I live in Bologna, the city where Lasagne was born, and I have a restaurant. My aunt (she is 85) boiled the pasta, exactly the sfoglia made by eggs, flavour and salt. But the real lasagne don't have mushrooms, tomato or mozzarella. The real lasagne are made by ragu: you have to fried onion, celery and carrot with olive oil in small pieces, when it is fried you must put in the meat (preferably pork) and let fried. Then you have to add the tomato sauce and cooking for about three hours. You must put the sfoglia (pasta) on the bottom of the baking tin, to put ragu with besciamella ( a mixed made by butter, flavour and milk cooked up to a soft cream) and Parmigiano cheese and then add another layer until you have filled the baking tin.

 

Is better to put on the last layer a piece of pasta to cover the head of the lasagne so they can't burn on the top.

 

This is the Lasagne that I sell in my restaurant in Bologna.

 

I hope my English is sufficiently clear.

 

If you have some questions I am here 

post #9 of 124

Simone, please keep posting on this forum. It would be so nice to have an Italian chef answering over here and teach all of us Italian food lovers. Benvenuti!

post #10 of 124

Yes sir! I look forward to hearing more from you also!

A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #11 of 124

Sounds good to me, like a lot of other good dishes what we have here  has been Americanized as has Pizza

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 124

Simone

An excellent post!  I usually make my lasagne with a ragu, too.

post #13 of 124

It is normal that the italian kitchen that you eat here in Italy is not the italian kitchen that you eat in USA or Uk...when I was in Scotland or in Canada i tried to eat in a italian restaurant...it was horrible...in Montreal they serve to me Chicken with Mushrooms and Spaghetti with tomato in the same dish!!!!

post #14 of 124

Ciao Simone,

welcome to the forums.  I've lived in Rome for 35 years though I'm American, or I should say, Italian-American.  Growing up there in an Italian-American context, I thought I was Italian - until I came here and found out just how American I am.  

 

Italian -American cuisine is very different from Italian.  Though some of the immigrants maintained their traditional dishes, like my family made tordelli with 3 kinds of browned meat, onion, spinach and cheese all in the same filling, as it was made in Barga (prov. di Lucca)  where they emigrated from, but made lasagne with a layer of ricotta and no bechamel - i presume because lasagne was not a dish they made in Barga in those days (no one had an oven) and they picked up the italian-american version from their friends.  No doubt the lasagne with ricotta was typical of some other small town in Italy and caught on in the states for some reason.  I've often wondered where this came from.  Maybe you know?  Certainly not Bologna.  My Italian mother in law from Pontecorvo (Lazio) would put bechamel, plain tomato sauce (napolitan ragu) and sometimes little meatballs in a layer (probably influenced by timballo) in her lasagne and she never made any dish that was not part of her tradition - never used a cookbook, and made a very limited number of dishes, always in the same way.  Probably there are a hundred varieties of lasagne, though everyone seems to consider Bologna to be The lasagne.

(My husband used to want to get of the train when it would stop in Bologna and run out to one of the people selling trays of lasagne on the platform because it was so renowned. The train would stop only 5 mnutes on the platform!  I'd go crazy thinking he wouldn't make it back, but such is the appeal of Lasagne Bolognese!) 

 

Anyway, I have no problem with putting cheese on fish pasta if it seems good that way, or of having pasta on the side or as part of a chicken dish (Chicken Tetrazzini - invented in America for the wonderful soprano Luisa Tetrazzini.) as long as it tastes good.

 

Americans like chicken in everything, it seems, and though I do recoil at the idea of chicken on pizza or chicken in a tomato sauce, i do love chicken tetrazzini.  Traditional dishes are great, but i also like to try new things - for me, that's the whole appeal and art of cooking. 

 

Anyway, it will be interesting to see your take on things, because you'll find that Italian food is very highly considered and lots of people want to know how things are made traditionally. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #15 of 124

Thanks a lot for your message, you are right, in Italy there isn't only an Italian kitchen but every city, such as in Emilia-Romagna, has a traditional kitchen.

Probably I will surprise you but my grandma too use the ricotta but she used it for the cannelloni (you certainly know what they are), I don't know very well the Kitchen of Tuscany or Lazio, I know for example the ribollita (that is very good)...

 

You are right, the american know the Italian-American kitchen and probably if they eat in an original italian restaurant they don't like so much...

 

I have seen that in Canada for example use a lot of chicken, you know that in Italy chicken must'nt eat with pasta, the Fettuccine Alfredo doesn't exist.

 

I will be very happy to talk with you and with the other people who are in this beautiful forum...and if you will stop in Bologna please come in my restaurant and you will be my host...

post #16 of 124

I have a"tongue in cheek" question   :)

 

Do they cook this way in Tuscany? I ask because all the Olive Garden chain (chefs) go there to learn how to cook Italian. And everybody know Olive Garden is real Italian food right???

post #17 of 124

Simone, don't know wether this item fits in this lasagna thread, but, many times I read a vincisgrassi recipe but never actually made it. Sounds and looks like an ancient type of lasagna with porcini and chickenlivers.

I have no idea from which Italian region it originates, maybe you ever heard of it or made it? Anyway, maybe stuff for another thread...?

post #18 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

I have a"tongue in cheek" question   :)

 

Do they cook this way in Tuscany? I ask because all the Olive Garden chain (chefs) go there to learn how to cook Italian. And everybody know Olive Garden is real Italian food right???


Do they cook in what way?  Lingua nel guanciale? smile.gif

Never ate in olive garden.  I never ever eat italian when i go to the states, there are too many things i miss that are american and international that i just can't get here.  And mai e poi mai (never, and again, NEVER) eat in italianate restaurants. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #19 of 124
Thread Starter 

Hi Simone,

Welcome to the form and thanks for insight on the pasta for lasagna.  I'm going to follow your Aunt's lead and boil my noodles.  The sauce I'm making for this lasagna will have only vegetables (good olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, celery and tomato sauce).  Someone who is coming to dinner is a Vegetarian.  In the past I have use either a bechamel sauce and ricotta in my lasagnas, not sure which one I'll use this time.

 

.

post #20 of 124

I suggest to try to use bechamel but not too liquid, if you bechamel is too liquid add flavour.

 

If there are some vegetarians lasagna with only vegetables is a good idea, i suggest to you to make lasagna with cheese like asiago or other hard cheese and red chichory for example...good work...

 

 

Siduri give to you a good board...i dont' know what is "Olive Garden"...

 

I post to you what is vincisgrassi:

Si tratta di una sorta di variante regionale delle lasagne al forno tipica delle Marche, ma anche delle zone umbre di confine con il maceratese, in particolare della montagna folignate. È un primo piatto che va tradizionalmente condito con ragù e con l'aggiunta di besciamella. Nelle ricette tradizionali sono presenti anche rigaglie di pollo ed eventualmente anche animelle, midollo, cervella bovine o tartufo. Nell'impasto delle lasagne possono entrare Marsala o vino cotto.

 

I translate it for you:

It is a regional variation of lasagna made in Marche and in some part of Umbria, a central italian regions. It is made with bechamel and ragu' but in the original recipes there are also chicken's offal and marrow, beef's brain or truffle. In the mixture there is also Marsala wine or mulled wine.

 

I don't know what they are, I never ate this plate altough Marche is the adjoining region with Emilia-Romagna, my region. In some parts of central or south Italy are used poor parts of pork or beef because were poor region where in the ancient peolpe ate what they have, my city instead was a rich city (in Bologna there is the oldest University of Europe - 1088 d.c.) and so there is a rich kitchen...

post #21 of 124

If you have a vegetarian for dinner is a good solution, you can also make your lasagna with asiago or other hard cheese and cicory...

 

If your bechamel is too liquid (to have a good bechamel it must'nt be too much liquid) you must add flavour, it is very useful

 

I dont' know what is Olive Garden, sorry...

 

Vincisgrassi is a regional type of lasagna made in Marche and some parts of Umbria, central Italy regions.

 

You must use ragu' and bechamel but you need to add chicken's offal, beef's brain or marrow and finally you must add Marsala wine or mulled wine...I never ate it but Marche are very near to Bologna, about 200 km, and I know it.

 

I think if you have others question is better to open a new topic, meanwhile good work to Cinnamongirl... 

post #22 of 124

Simone, Olive garden is a chain of restaurants (catena) that supposedly have Italian cuisine (or Tuscan cuisine?) but really it is very much American influenced.  I've never eaten there. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #23 of 124

I always prefer mine boiled first. I tried without the first time and even with extra sauce it didn't have that amazing texture you get from the pasta when you boil it.

post #24 of 124

I supposed that Olive Garden was a chain of restaurant,  I will go to the site and I will see what they prepare...

post #25 of 124

Olive Garden is terrible.  I used to go there when I was a teenager because I didn't know any better and I thought it was good.  It's one of those restaurants that covers every plate with marinara sauce.  Seriously, how can every dish have marinara sauce on top of it? 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #26 of 124

I have seen the website, it's horrible...it isn't italian kitchen...it's only a strange mixture of food...

post #27 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simone Metalli View Post

I have seen the website, it's horrible...it isn't italian kitchen...it's only a strange mixture of food...



Hence my tongue in cheek question.......Their commercials used to feature their (Chefs) being sent to Tuscany where there is supposedly an "Olive Garden" school to teach them how to cook their signature menu items. That commercial has since been removed from the air waves.

post #28 of 124
Simone, I Tavel to Italy 2times per year near Desenzano, I love the food there in the north. I try to reproduce all the dishes I love, pumpkin ravioli! This is one of my favorite! I alway boil my fresh pasta. I don't think I would gamble skipping this.
post #29 of 124

 

Ciao,

 

Firstly, I am writing to reply to the 1st question which is: does one have to boil fresh pasta ? One has to boil pasta whether it is a dry variety, or a dry egg variety or a fresh variety, though the time shall be less with a fresh variety.

 

I too am half Italian and we make our Lasagna with a Ragú which has been long simmered and made with:

 

extra virgin olive oil

onion 

leek

carrot

celery

milk

Italian bread

ground beef or veal

ground pork

sweet sausage uncased

piquant sausage uncased

dry white wine

pancetta

peeled and deseeded and chopped tomato

tomato paste

*** Garlic: In Emilia Romagna, Italy, garlic was avoided to obvious bad breath however, in the USA, garlic is loved and enjoyed freely; so it is optional and the cook´s choice  

 

 

The Emilia Romagna Government in the City of Bologna which is where the ragù originated has an Italian and English version of their documented recipe. One can contact the tourism board online for it.

 

Also, Mario Batali creates a Ragù which is quite similar to the one mentioned by the Government and possibly can be found in Bon Appetit Magazine or Food and Wine Magazine online.

 

Have a nice Sunday.

Margaux Cintrano.

 

post #30 of 124

I've used the parboiled noodles for pasta without boiling them. Very convenient. Also a great shortcut to manicotti for a home cook. Boil 5 minutes, fill and roll.

 

For a fresh pasta in lasagna, I'd boil it first. I'd be tempted it remove it a minute or so early, I admit.

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