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Do I need to pre-boil fresh homemade pasta sheets when making lasagne?

I have been using my beloved Marcella Hazan "Essentials of Italian Cooking" to make homemade pastas for a while. She insists (in her usual orthodox way) that the thin sheets of pasta must be pre-boiled, wrung out and dried off before assembling the lasagne. While I generally follow her directions to a T, I wonder if this is a case of her being overly picky? Has anyone dared to defy Marcella on this point?

asked by virgieandhats over 4 years ago
7 answers 42947 views
added over 4 years ago

Nope - just make sure they are covered with sauce so the edges don't burn. If you're using a recipe that calls for pre-boiled pasta sheets, you may want to up the amount of sauce by 1/4 - 1/3 cup. The sheets will absorb some of the liquid while baking.

added over 4 years ago

like burnt offerings, I don't pre-boil fresh pasta sheets and add a little more sauce or even a touch of water.

added over 4 years ago

Well Marcella is the kind of person who only does what the Italians do in Italy. I don't think she ever thought " what could I do to make this easier"? But, I have and it's almost a sure way to make sure it isn't water(y).


amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

I'm devoted to Marcella (Essentials is one of my desert island cookbooks)...but, she's not one to cut corners - even ones that beg cutting. I never pre-boil fresh pasta sheets for lasagna and it works fine. As has been said, just go a bit heavy on the sauce so every inch of pasta is well covered. Frankly, I think the pasta itself absorbs the flavors and tastes better if you don't pre-boil. But, sshhh.....don't tell Marcella.

added over 4 years ago

I use Marcella's recipe, too, and like the others who answered the question, I don't pre-boil the pasta. If you do what the others have described, you'll have a delicious dish!!

added over 4 years ago

Thanks, everyone! I have never cheated on Marcella before, but I think it's for the best after all the moral support!

added over 4 years ago

Just one note, I think the texture is a little different if you pre-boil vs not. Pre-boiled sheets have a firmer texture and unboiled sheets take on an almost pastry-like texture, soft and they absorb the flavors as others have said. So, if you want the fork to sink right through the lasagna, don't pre-boil but if you want it to encounter a little resistance with each sheet, you should pre-boil.