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Old 01-30-2007, 09:23 PM   #1
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First time lasagna

Hi all,
I just made my first lasagna and I ran into some problems maybe somebody can help me with. I'm going to bullet these because there are so many
  • My noodles stuck to the bottom of my pan. How do you keep this from happening (my spaghetti does the same thing)
  • Which way do you lay the noodles? I have a 9x13 inch pan and I laid them long ways.....is that right? I ended up with a lot of left over noodles
  • The recipe said cook the noodles al dente so I pulled them out before they were limp. However, they wouldn't lay in the dish flat. They were curved (because they couldn't fit entirely into my pot until they were bendable). I don't know if it is because they weren't cooked enough to be pliable or if I need a bigger pot so they can boil while laying flat (do they make a pot that big!)?
  • The recipe calls for laying the noodles, meat sauce, cheese sauce, ricotta cheese and mozarella. But how in the world do you spread a ricotta cheese layer on top of a cheese sauce layer? It ended up being more like a mixture of all three layers after I tried to spread it. Am I supposed to melt the ricotta cheese in the microwave and pour it on?

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Old 01-30-2007, 10:16 PM   #2
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Put a thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan before you put the noodles in, to keep them from sticking.

Yes, you will end up with a lot of extra noodles. You need to overlap them a little bit but you will only get 3 or 4 across, for 3 or 4 layers.

Al Dente means almost all the way - if there is a cooking time on the package - go with the lesser cooking time. For instance, if it says "Cook for 9-11 minutes", go with 9 minutes.

What kind of cheese sauce did you use? Could we see the recipe? Typically, the ricotta is the "cheese sauce".
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Old 01-30-2007, 10:20 PM   #3
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First, it's always best to put a few small spoonfuls of your sauce in the dish and cover the bottom completely- that will eliminate any sticking.

Second, I actually add water to my sauce. This way, I can put the noodles in without boiling them (yep - right out of the package!)

Here's how I layer:
little bit of sauce
noodles
ricotta mixture (ricotta, egg, nutmeg, salt, sometimes spinach)
sprinkle of parmesan/mozzarella mixture
sauce
noodles
ricotta mixture
parm/mozz
sauce
noodles
ricotta mixture
parm/mozz
sauce
Bake till bubbly, with foil over the top (really tightly fit on!)
Then, take off the foil and top with mozzarella. Bake for another 10 min till bubbly.
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Old 01-30-2007, 10:47 PM   #4
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My noodles stick to the pan I boil them in not the lasagna dish itself. I didn't know if there was some trick to prevent this. Here is the recipe. It has a cheese sauce that you make separately from the ricotta. Maybe it is a misprint and you should put the ricotta on the noodles. Do you think that I didn't cook my noodles long enough. I could still break them.

Tammy's Favorite Lasagna - Allrecipes
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Old 01-31-2007, 01:52 AM   #5
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Basically everything was okay except cooking the noodles. I cook mine in a dutch oven style pot. I fill the pot about 3/4 full of water and turn the burner on medium. You need the heat under the water and not around the sides of the pot.
You can count out 9-12 lasagne noodles and put them into the boiling water. They lean against the side of the pot and slowly slide down into the water as they soften. I usually put them around the side of the put and do not stack them together on one side.
When the water reaches the boil state again, I reduce the heat so that they don't boil to pieces and the starch doesn't foam up. Sort of a slow simmering boil.
The cooking time depends on the thickness of the noodles but on an average, it's 10-20 minutes, testing for doneness occassionally.
You can add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the water while cooking. It makes them a little easier to deal with after you drain them.
By the way, I like the recipe.
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Old 01-31-2007, 03:00 AM   #6
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I recommend cooking your lasagne sheets off in batches, as the Italians do. They only take a moment if fresh (homemade or bought), then take out of water and leave to drain on clean kitchen towels. ALL pasta must be cooked in heaps of water, not just enough to barely cover the uncooked pasta. Figure on 3 times as much as you thought! :)
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Old 01-31-2007, 03:23 AM   #7
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Interesting! when we in UK I made a lot of lasagne as it freezes so well, and those foil boxes to take to work and shove in an oven at lunch time come in the right size for a lasagne sheet, lol!

I have, bizarrely, never read a recipe for lasagne just kind of made it up! So slapped wrists for me!

The first thing I notice is that I am going to try with the ricotta mixture instead of my normal cheese sauce (typical middle England cooking I have always made a typical bechamel-cheese sauce with parmesan or grana) so this will be interesting, and I use more vegetables. I stick carrots and celery in everything, and I put a little of my cheese sauce on the base not meat sauce, purely because I like a nice white bottom, lol...now while I am talking I realise I have my Il Cucciaio d'argento here, so hang on, I'll refer to my Italian cooking bible!

Interesting, I am still going to try the ricotta but the ingrediants here (oh cripes, copywrite?- i can list the ingredients but no more I believe!)

OK, a lasagne alla bolgnese for four people;

egg pasta
300g of minced/ground beef, 1/2 a litre of becciamella (bechamel sauce) 70 gr of grated cheese, 1/2 a glass of dry white wine, 250 gr tomato pulp/chopped tomato, 1 onion, 1 carrot, butter, oil, salt, pepper.
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Old 01-31-2007, 05:48 AM   #8
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Many good ideas here. With regard to your noodles sticking in the cooking pan, have your BIG pot of water boiling and salted. Slide the lasagna noodles in individually, working around the edge of the pot so they don't "stack up". Stir a bit. Add a little olive oil. They need to be done but not overdone or they will tear. AND they are going to cook a lot more when in the sauce.
A lot of people do not even cook the noodles (regular lasagna, not the no-boil variety!) If this is done, then the lasagna sauces need to have more liquid, but it does work.
I have been a much better lasagna maker since learning to cook the noodles and then take them out and put on towels on the counter. Having them all laid out and ready makes the assembly quick and easy.
As others said, put some sauce on the bottom of the pan.
The cheese layer for my recipe is either ricotta or small curd cottage cheese, parmesan, eggs and parsley--it is very spreadable.
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:59 AM   #9
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which way do you lay the noodles......by length or width of the 9x13 pan? Do you wash your noodles with cold water in a drainer once you pull them out of the boiling water? I've always seen people do this but never really knew why or if you were supposed to.
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:16 AM   #10
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You rince to wash of the starch, NO ITALIAN rinses pasta! It seems to be an american thing :) Lay the sheets the way they fit best in your pan, practice before cooking them.
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