It's time to stop underestimating the versatility of lasagna noodles. While covering them in sauce, cheese, and meat is delicious, we have a few tricks that will forever change how you look at the Italian staple. Just think about it: Lasagna noodles are incredibly versatile due to their rectangular, flat shape and simple flavor. These qualities allow them to be compatible with many sweet and savory foods, making them perfect for creating new culinary dishes.
Lasagna noodles can be used in their natural shape or you can slice them into smaller pieces depending on your recipe. You can cook them as usual, so they're flexible enough to bend or roll, allowing you to make eye-catching foods. Or, you can cut them into squares or triangles to make light and crispy chips or crackers. Whether you have extra noodles from last night's dinner or you just want to have some fun in the kitchen, these clever ideas can help you convert plain lasagna noodles into an extraordinary appetizer, meal, or dessert.
Cut Them Smaller For Different Pasta Dishes
If you run out of other noodles or you're bored of making classic lasagna, cut the sheets smaller and include them in other pasta dishes. If you're okay with the pieces being irregular in shape, you can break them by hand before boiling them according to the instructions on the box. However, if you prefer uniform pieces, boil them first and then slice them into the desired shape on a cutting board.
One classic meal that you can make is beef stroganoff. You can opt for long noodles as is typical for the dish, or break them up for a more rustic version. Another route is making a savory stir fry. Cook meat, fresh veggies, and bok choy before adding the lasagna noodles. Add your sauce, allow it to simmer, and toss everything to complete the dish. These options are best enjoyed immediately since the pasta is freshly cooked, as the sauce can make it soggy over time.
Instantly upgrade classic lasagna by assembling rolls instead of layers. You can think of it as using the sheets the same way as you would a tortilla. You can use common lasagna fillings such as ground meat, marinara sauce, cheese, and herbs, or other sauces and veggies or switch it up for something different. For example, make enchilada roll-ups with ground or shredded meat, jalapeños, beans, and cheese. In this case, skip the pasta sauce and use enchilada sauce instead.
To assemble the roll-ups, cook the filling on the stovetop first. Then, fill each cooked lasagna noodle with a heaping spoonful before carefully tucking and rolling them. Transfer them to a greased baking pan and place them seam-side down so they don't open while they cook. Cover the roll-ups with sauce and cheese. You'll know they're done when the cheese is nice and bubbly. They don't take long to bake since everything is already cooked beforehand.
Create Dessert Lasagna
Dessert lasagna is a perfect way to use pasta sheets for something sweet and allows you to mix and match flavors within each layer. It's also ideal when you need to make dessert for a crowd since it feeds about a dozen people and you can assemble it in a casserole dish. For a rich treat to end your meal, try Nutella lasagna with fresh fruit, nuts, and Nutella. Sprinkle marshmallows over the top layer and bake it until they're toasty.
Another idea is to use pie filling instead of fresh fruit. Layer a filling, like apple or cherry, between cooked noodles and sweetened mascarpone or cream cheese. For best results, spread pie filling over the top layer and sprinkle streusel crumbs over it. When you bake it, the dessert comes out with a gorgeous golden brown and crispy topping that perfectly contrasts the softer noodles and creamy filling below.
Put Them In Soup
Don't let leftover lasagna sheets go to waste, instead, throw them in a soup. Pasta e fagioli, minestrone, chicken noodle, and meatball soup are all perfect contenders for a lasagna noodle swap.
You can add the noodles either cooked or uncooked, depending on the soup and where you're at in the recipe. For instance, you can stir cooked noodles into leftover soups last-minute just to heat them up, or simply add uncooked noodles to a simmering pot to cook along with the rest of the ingredients. It's best to break or cut them into smaller pieces ahead of time for either method.
One tasty option to keep with the noodle's theme is to make lasagna soup with all the traditional components, such as ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, basil, and oregano. At the end of cooking, sprinkle on shredded cheese or add a few spoonfuls of ricotta to provide the finishing touch.
Transform Them Into Nachos
Consider using lasagna sheets for an extra crunchy base for your next plate of nachos. Bringing this concept to life is much easier than you probably realize. To try it out, boil the noodles and lay them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Use a paper towel to pat them dry, and then cut them into squares or triangles. Either drizzle them with oil and bake them or pan fry them in a little oil on the stovetop. It's easy to gauge when they're ready because they turn golden brown and crunchy. The most important part, no matter which cooking method you use, is to ensure you don't overcrowd the pan because that makes them cook unevenly.
Once they're cooked, add your favorite nacho toppings. Drizzle queso sauce or sprinkle shredded cheese over them, and top them with fresh diced tomatoes, avocado, olives, sour cream, lettuce, and onions. As far as meat goes, these pasta chips taste irresistible with shredded chicken, pulled pork, ground beef, or even steak.
Make Cinnamon Crisps
Believe it or not, you can transform standard lasagna noodles into scrumptious cinnamon sugar bites. This treat can function as a snack or an entire dessert. To make crispy fried noodles, you'll need to boil them first and allow them to air dry, or else they will have too much water and won't crisp up nicely. After they're dry, cut the lasagna sheets in thirds, or use a pizza cutter to cut thinner shreds.
From there, you can cook them in a skillet or deep fryer until they're crunchy and have darkened. If you want the easiest route, go with pan-frying since it generally requires less setup and oil. Lastly, transfer them to a paper towel to slightly drain them, and coat them in a cinnamon sugar mixture while they're still warm. These crisps taste phenomenal if you top them with fresh whipped cream and macerated strawberries. Or, sprinkle on a light coating of powdered sugar.
Use The Noodles As The Base For A Breakfast Dish
Let go of the idea that pasta is exclusively for later in the day and use your lasagna sheets for breakfast. Namely, a breakfast-style lasagna. Build it in a standard casserole dish, and in between the layers of pasta, include sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, veggies, cheese, bacon bits, or diced ham.
Alternatively, you can chop the lasagna noodles and use them in an egg casserole. Use noodle strands instead of hash browns and mix them with eggs, milk, sausage, and vegetables. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, top it with cheese, and bake it until it sets.
As another option, you can make a frittata with the noodles. It's not uncommon for this traditional dish to include pasta, anyway, as frittatas often contain leftover food to prevent food waste. If you plan to do so, slice cooked lasagna sheets into thin strands, then sauté them with other components before pouring the egg mixture on top and cooking your frittata as usual.
Make Baked Crackers
Homemade crackers can be a breeze to make with lasagna sheets. For this kitchen project, you should start with cooked noodles. How you cut them will depend on how you plan to enjoy them. For example, make larger crackers to use on a cheese and charcuterie board. For this method, cut them into large rectangles or triangles to load them with ingredients like cheese, deli meats, and spreads.
You can also cut them into tiny crackers about the size of Cheez-Its for snacking. Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat and place the noodle pieces in a single layer without overlapping. For a better crunch, drizzle them with oil before baking. And while you're at it, take your favorite seasonings and sprinkle those on just after the oil so they adhere. From here, bake them at a moderate oven temperature, around 375 degrees F, until they turn crunchy and look (and feel) like a standard cracker. It shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes.
Transform Them Into Ravioli
If you're in the mood for homemade ravioli, but all you have are lasagna noodles, don't fret -- there's a neat trick to solve this problem. Bear in mind that this works best with fresh lasagna sheets. First, make the pasta sticky by submerging it in hot water for a few seconds. If you skip this step, you can't properly seal the edges, and the ravioli will crack open. Prepare your work surface by sprinkling some flour on the counter and placing the pasta sheets on it. It's your choice how large you want to make each ravioli, but a standard sheet can make about three to five.
Next, scoop dollops of your preferred filling onto the sheet with space in between and then cut to create the individual ravioli. Folding and sealing them is the trickiest part of the process, and you'll likely need to use both your hands and a fork to secure them successfully. Once you're past the hard part, cook them like any other ravioli by placing them in boiling water and waiting for them to float to the top; this process usually takes five minutes. Then, you can pair them with savory sauces and accompaniments.
Make Mini Appetizers
Assemble stunning and unique appetizers with lasagna noodles to impress your guests. Although there are many ways to do so, one idea stands out for its presentation: bite-sized seafood starters.
Cook the sheets until al dente, so they have some structure but are still soft enough to fold. Then, cut each noodle into four pieces, with each being roughly 2 inches long. Smother cream cheese, herbs, and smoked salmon on the noodles. Then, carefully fold them and use a toothpick to fasten them. Depending on how much filling you use, you might need two sticks.
You can also make tiny hors d'oeuvres by first making lasagna chips or crackers. Allow them to cool, then layer fresh sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, or other refreshing ingredients on the crisp. Other options include placing a dollop of chicken salad, guacamole, meat, or seafood on top.
Make Lasagna Cupcakes
Here's a fun activity that kids can join in on: Make miniature savory cupcakes by lining lasagna noodles in a muffin pan. Although this is quite straightforward to do, it's essential that you first spray the pan to prevent them from sticking. Boil the noodles until they're al dente, so they are plenty bendy. If you use half of a sheet for each cup, it leaves some overhang, which will turn crunchy after you bake it.
Choose a filling that suits your preferences; it doesn't have to be the usual lasagna components. For instance, you can make vegetable-themed cupcakes with chopped squash, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, or opt for a breakfast version with eggs, bacon, and cheese. Artichoke, spinach, and chicken cupcakes served with a cream sauce can make for a fancy addition to any table. In reality, anything that fits in the cup works. You can make them as light or hearty as you wish, and they can function as a side dish or main course.
Create Mini Pizzas
Bagels, English muffins, and tortilla pizzas can step aside because lasagna pizzas are in. To make them, you must first boil the pasta sheets and then pat them dry before assembling the pizzas. Then, load your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings directly onto the soft pasta. If you are using meat or other toppings that should be cooked before eating them, be sure to cook them before adding them to your pizza. The pizzas only need to be in the oven long enough for the cheese to melt and the noodles to turn golden and crunchy. In general, this typically takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
This pizza-making method is a hassle-free option for a couple of reasons. First, you don't need to make dough from scratch, so it's accessible to home cooks without bread-making experience. Second, it's beneficial because it saves you time. And lastly, it's just fun and different!
Turn Them Into Mini Taco Shells
We know what you're thinking: Taco shells made with lasagna noodles sound like a disaster waiting to happen. But in reality, it's much better than you think. You see, rather than using noodles as soft taco shells, you fry them to make them hard. To do so, first prepare the noodles by boiling them. Afterward, use paper towels to dry them because wet noodles can make the oil splatter, which can cause burns.
Next, fill a large pot with oil, bringing it to approximately 350 degrees F. Then, use tongs to manipulate the cooked noodles into a shell shape. Keep the ends separated enough to prevent breaking the fold. Lastly, dunk them in the oil and fry them until they're crispy. It is ideal to focus on one shell at a time, so this project is best suited for making smaller batches of tacos.
Use Them In Chilaquiles
Put a unique twist on the classic Mexican dish known as chilaquiles. This meal was first invented as a way to repurpose stale tortillas. For the traditional version, crispy corn tortilla pieces are cooked in salsa until they soften, then garnished with crema, onions, and cheese. However, sometimes people make it more elegant and serve it with many accompaniments, such as shredded meat, beans, eggs, avocado slices, and more.
Instead of cooking tortilla pieces in the sauce, you can replace them with lasagna noodles. To try it out, break the noodles into chip-sized pieces. You don't need to boil them beforehand, as they will cook in the sauce. Heat the sauce and noodles in a skillet over medium heat until they're al dente and still have a slight bite. Finally, garnish the dish with your preferred toppings.
Utilize The Sheets As Pot Pie Crust
Next time you're in the mood for a pot pie, lasagna sheets can be your best friend. Use extra noodles rather than making a pie crust from scratch. You can use fresh lasagna sheets or boil the dried pasta first, and then line your greased cookware with it. It can be tricky if you use a round baking dish, as you might need to overlap the noodles to ensure you cover the bottom and sides entirely. Reserve some of the lasagna sheets for the top. Fill your lasagna pot pie shell with your favorite ingredients as your normally would.
Although you can place the sheets over the filling without much thought, the dish turns out much more extravagant when you craft a lattice topping. Weave the sheets over and under each other to make the design. You can even cut them thinner lengthwise for the true effect. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the presentation and texture of the lasagna crust after it bakes.
Incorporate The Noodles Into Fritters
Lasagna noodles can be a beneficial addition to corn, crab, or zucchini fritters. However, when doing so, you need to slice the boiled noodles into strands first and only use a small amount. The pasta should complement the primary ingredient rather than distract from it. For example, if you add it to a corn fritter recipe, use two to three times more corn than pasta.
You can also create your own unique recipe with the lasagna sheets as the main ingredient. Slice thin strands and mix them with various seasonings, cheese, an egg or two, and breadcrumbs to help bind it all together
Before you cook them, check the batter's consistency by placing a sample scoop into the skillet. If it runs rather than holds shape, you can add flour or bread crumbs to thicken it. Once it's ready, pan-fry the fritters on the stovetop, flipping them halfway through to guarantee they become crispy on both sides.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.