Don't Boil Your Lasagna Noodles, Use This Tip From Ina Garten Instead

Ina Garten's been generous to us over these last few years. She taught us how to treat ourselves to the fluffiest scrambled eggs and that we should turn to humongous cocktails in times of uncertainty. Now Garten's got another brilliant tip, this time to cut down on the time-intensive process of making lasagna.

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In her turkey lasagna recipe (via the Food Network), Garten provides a small tip that has altered our relationship with lasagna in all its forms: Skip pre-boiling your noodles. Instead, let them soak in hot tap water for 20 minutes while you prep the dish's other components. No waiting for the pot to boil, no halting the cooking process before baking, and no pulling yourself away from prepping the sauce and an army of cheeses to test for the right level of pasta doneness.

Simply drain the noodles when your timer goes off, assemble each layer, and throw the lasagna in the oven until the sauce is bubbling. Thanks to heat of the oven and the moisture from the dish's ingredients, your lasagna noodles will come out toothsome and with the structural integrity necessary to hold together after you slice and serve the dish — and it will all come together in much less time than you're used to.

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How soaking your lasagna noodles saves time

Many store-bought lasagna noodles are dry pasta, which means they need to be rehydrated, typically in boiling water. That process is known as diffusion, and for pasta with a standard thickness, that happens in roughly 10 minutes. Traditionally, lasagna recipes call for par-boiling noodles, which only takes a few minutes of actual cooking time, but once you add in the wait time for your water to boil, that's almost an hour before you even bake. You also have to check them constantly while they're cooking; just a couple of extra minutes in boiling water could result in overcooked, mealy noodles and a glob-like slice of lasagna rather than one that's beautifully stacked and majestic.

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What's great about Garten's hot tap water method is that it starts the diffusion process but delegates the rest of the cooking to your lasagna's other ingredients, which contain more than enough moisture to cook your pasta in the baking dish. The soaking trick could save you up to 40 minutes. If you've got dinner guests waiting, or family over for a Sunday meal, that could be the difference between nailing the perfect dinner time and serving a hangry crowd.

Ina Garten's lasagna noodle tip is only one way to cut down on cooking time

Garten, of course, is not alone in seeking a better, quicker way to cook lasagna. The boil-free camp has many members, some of whom suggest using fresh lasagna sheets, which need neither a soak nor a boil. There are plenty of proponents of using no-boil noodles, which are dry pasta that's been pre-bathed in water before packaging. A quick search on YouTube or TikTok will reveal scores of food influencers and home cooks who strongly advocate a no-boil policy for even regular dry pasta. Some add a small amount of water to the full, layered dish before baking; some don't even do that. The results of each method appear to be on par with those who par-boil, and in many cases, they might even taste better.

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Whether you use Ina Garten's boil-free method or any of the others, one step that's non-negotiable is seasoning. That may mean adding a pinch of salt to your soaking water, or perhaps to the dish's other components to make up for it. Garten doesn't mention this step in her recipe, but it's probably safe to say that she would agree that you must salt your dish properly.

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