Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lasagna Secrets

Did you know that you don't have to cook the lasagna pasta before baking the casserole? That's right. Before I learned this secret, I dreaded making lasagna because when I boiled the pasta, it stuck together and then I burned my fingers trying to rip it apart.  This way, there's less hassle, less mess, no ripped lasagna noodles. And you don't have to buy the special "no cook" lasagna pasta in order to do this.  Though friends and family are reluctant to believe this secret, it is true.

First make the sauce.
Brown in a large pot:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (lean)\
When cooked, move to the sides of the pan and add
1 small can tomato paste -- cook this until it is bubbly and brown
Add 1 large can of tomato sauce and
1 large can of diced tomatos
1/2 cup of water (used to rinse out the cans and get all the bits of tomato)
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
a sprinkle of hot pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
three or four grinds of freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon sugar * secret to great, authentic tomato sauce
a tablespoon to 1/4 cup leftover red wine (if you have it)
Cook this for at least 1 hour.

When ready, prepare the 13 x 9 " pan by spaying with cooking spray or coating lightly with oil
1 large container part skim ricotta cheese
4 eggs
2 cups shredded motzarella cheese

Spoon a layer of the tomato sauce (hot) into the bottom of the pan.

place the completely uncooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.

Drop the 1/2 of the cheese mixture on top of this and spread it out.
Spoon another generous layer of tomato sauce on top of the cheese
and repeat.

Use 1/2 cup of the remaining sauce to fill up the corners of the pan. This is an important step.

see how the corners are filled and see also how the pan is about to fall off my counter. That part I don't recommend.
End with a sprinkling of motzarella cheese and parmesan.
Cover tightly with tin foil and place the pan on a cookie sheet with edges (to catch the drips - I promise you, there will be drips).

Bake at 350 degrees  for 50 minutes covered. Uncover for 10 minutes and bake some more.
Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

No milk variation
Substitute hummus for the cheese/egg mixture.  Add sliced olives and/ or marinated artichokes.
It's yummy!

See? Pasta is cooked, sauce is just right, and no burned fingers!


  1. That is how I always make it. I have never bothered with boiling (or as my MIL used to do soaking the noddles over night.) I currently have that "no cook" kind in my pantry but that was more accidental than intentional as it was on sale and I did not realize it was until I got it home.

    I love the idea of the Hummus by the way. Will make note of that as something I can feed my vegan friend. Thanks

  2. This is wonderful!! I especially like the no milk variation as I am lactose intolerant and always am on the hunt for milk substitutes! This is great!

    ~Cristina Cruse

  3. Loris- GREAT idea about the noodles!! I love that and will try it. Many thanks as I am always daunted by the thought of cooking and unsticking the noodles (have thought of making my own??). Also, as people always have a milk alternative- once again I will also offer a meat substitute. Either use veggie crumbles or prepare TVP with garlic and onion sauteed (my preference) as a ground beef substitute (only add more olive oil or water if using this. SO great- and less fat, and animals are happier, too- as well as the people!!!

  4. I can attest that this works. The other side effect of not cooking the noodles is that you don't have runny lasagna soup as a final product like you often get when you precook the noodles.


  5. Good point Joe...Mom, your lasagna is always so delicious :)