If you're cooking lasagna noodles, here are a few tricks that can help you get them perfectly al dente. Alternatively, you can try this simple lasagna recipe with uncooked noodles where all you have to do is layer all the ingredients in a dish and put it in the oven.
Cooking Lasagna Noodles Al Dente
The National Pasta Association explains that "al dente" is a measure of doneness when it comes to pasta. Pasta that has been cooked al dente is firm to the bite but still thoroughly cooked through.
Getting any kind of pasta, including lasagna noodles, perfectly al dente is a little tricky. You need to make sure that it's cooked and not raw; however, as soon as it reaches that point, you need to ensure that it stops cooking so that it doesn't get soft or mushy. This requires you take the pasta off the heat source as soon as it's done and drain away the water; otherwise, it will continue cooking in the hot water.
Eastern New Mexico University lists instructions for cooking lasagna noodles; following these steps can help ensure they don't cook beyond al dente. To begin with, add water and salt to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles to the boiling water and let them cook, checking them frequently so that you can take them off the heat once they're done.
While the lasagna noodles cook, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and ice cubes. As soon as the lasagna noodles are cooked al dente, take them off the heat, drain the water and plunge the noodles into the ice bath. Drain the noodles once again and lay them out on paper towels to dry.
Dunking the lasagna noodles in an ice bath is an extra step, but it cools them off quickly and guarantees they won't cook any further, helping you achieve perfect al dente status.
Read more: How to Reheat Lasagna in the Oven
Lasagna Recipe With Uncooked Noodles
Instead of cooking lasagna noodles, you can take a shortcut and use no-boil noodles instead. Many simple lasagna recipes use uncooked noodles; you can simply use raw noodles and layer them in with the other ingredients, and put the dish in the oven to bake.
If you're interested, you can try our Rotisserie Chicken Lasagna recipe. Instead of regular lasagna noodles that are made of refined flour, it calls for whole-wheat noodles. Per USDA ChooseMyPlate, whole grains have considerably more fiber, B vitamins and iron than refined grains.
You will need:
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 12 ounces of skinless rotisserie chicken (white meat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups of organic marinara sauce
- 15 ounces of part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup of organic chicken broth
- 4 ounces of whole-wheat no-boil lasagna noodles
Here's what you need to do:
Prepare the baking dish: Use an 8-by-10-inch
rectangular-sized baking dish. Spray it with the olive oil cooking spray and then set it aside.
Make the chicken mixture: Chop or shred the chicken. Add salt and pepper to it. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the marinara sauce. You can also add a dash of balsamic vinegar if you like.
Make the cheese mixture: In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and chicken broth.
Layer the ingredients: Put one-third of the chicken mixture in the baking dish, spreading it into an even layer. Top it with one-third of the lasagna noodles, followed by one-third of the cheese mixture. Repeat until you have three layers. You can break the lasagna noodles to help fit them into an even layer.
Cover and bake: Wrap the baking dish in foil from top to bottom and bottom to top. If you don't want to eat it right away you can freeze it. When you're ready to eat it, put it in the oven, set it to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and let it cook until it's heated through. This should take around two and a half hours. Remove the foil, place a pan under the dish to catch any drippings and bake it on the middle rack for another 30 minutes.
Serve hot: Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before you serve it. You can garnish it with basil leaves or red pepper flakes if you like.
This recipe offers 325 calories, 30 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbs and 13 grams of fat per serving. It also has 78 milligrams of cholesterol and 822 milligrams of sodium. Lasagna makes for a hearty, comforting meal, but it's best saved for special occasions. Serving it with a salad can help add more fiber and nutrition to your meal.