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?

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18 Comments

Vinny M. April 3, 2018
One of the reasons you should always pre-boil noodles is to infuse salt. Some say it is not much work. I find it to be a monumental pain, but like most good things, the love, time, and care you put into it makes all the difference.
 
Leith D. February 10, 2016
Karen B, I have the same problem...to boil or not? I use a easy sort-of-boiled method. Place the boxed lasagna sheets into a pan and cover it with hot water, then let sit for 5-10 minutes. The sheets get softened, but they're still easy to work with, and they never come out underdone.
 
ChefJune December 30, 2015
I realize this is an OLD question, and I haven't read all the replies BUT -- my Italian cooking maven, the late, great Anna Teresa Callen eschewed cooking ANY noodle for lasagne. She said she'd found even the dried noodles you're supposed to cook cooked up very well along with all the filling and sauce of the lasagne. And I have found the same to be true. So no, I wouldn't boil fresh noodle for lasagne. I wouldn't boil any noodle for lasagne.
 
KarenB February 10, 2016
I have always baked my lasagne using dried pasta and never have precooked it. However, just made fresh pasta and some instructions say to participate boil and others say 2-4 min. I am so confused.
 
Leith D. December 29, 2015
No, as long as you have a little extra sauce for the pasta to absorb.
 
Smaug December 27, 2015
It should be noted that Ms Hazan is adamant that lasagne should not be baked more than 15 minutes- just to brown the toppings-and does not oversauce the dish. Best to boil the pasta; it's really not that much trouble.
 
BB December 29, 2015
I think that to bake lasagne for only 15 minutes means you will have a cold dish with unmelted cheese. I made 5 layers and to get that cooked, hot and melted I needed every minute of an hour plus. Uncovering to brown the top is important. Possibly if you are starting with all hot ingredients, except the cheese and you bake it at 400 then maybe a 1/2 hour would work, but I wouldn't want to trust that. I think it's important to let it "rest" for at least 15 min before serving too.
 
702551 December 29, 2015
The Marcella Hazan approach calls for pre-cooked warm ingredients: pasta and sauce (bolognese/bechamel combo), hence the 15 minute baking is sufficient finish the dish.

Remember, all the ingredients are cooked and ready to be consumed individually.

Hazan does recommend a 10 minute resting period before serving.
 
Smaug December 30, 2015
Precisely. The discussion started out being about Hazan's recipe; If you want to make a deep, many layered dish and use the oven to cook the ingredients you are talking about an entirely different dish. I personally prefer Giuliano Bugiali's version (sans the chicken livers), but that one is a bit of a hassle.
 
Susan W. December 30, 2015
That Hazan recipe is by far my favorite lasagna and yes, the ten minutes is adequate. I've made it twice..huge project, but enjoyable. I prefer a lasagna like hers to a drippy, cheesey lasagna.
 
BB December 26, 2015
NO! I just made fantastic vegetarian lasagne for Christmas and used fresh pasta that I bought 4 days before. I just wrapped each in waxed paper and then a damp kitchen towel and refrigerated until I assembled. I then had it sit overnight in the refrigerator and baked it the following day. 50 mins @ 350 covered, 20 mins uncovered, and 15 mins to sit before serving. Pasta was perfect, tender and not too done. It was easy and mess free!
 
Jake March 6, 2011
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.
 
virgieandhats March 6, 2011
Thanks, everyone! I have never cheated on Marcella before, but I think it's for the best after all the moral support!
 
phyllis March 5, 2011
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!!
 
amysarah March 5, 2011
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.
 
ChefDaddy March 5, 2011
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).
 
healthierkitchen March 5, 2011
like burnt offerings, I don't pre-boil fresh pasta sheets and add a little more sauce or even a touch of water.
 
Burnt O. March 5, 2011
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.
 
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