Cock-a-noodle-news! It's the dawn of a new era in noodle-marketing.

According to Karen Garloch, spokeswoman for T. Marzetti Co., it's easier than ever to make homemade lasagna - from pre-boiled, frozen lasagna-noodle sheets.Sold in a slender 16-ounce box, the new noodles, Reames Lasagna Sheets, are ready to put in the pan. That means no boiling and draining before layering the lasagna.

A no-boil lasagna product is already on the market - dried noodles, stocked with other pastas on grocery shelves - but these slightly thinner noodles can be difficult to find.

Some lasagna recipes aim to save cooks that extra step of pre-cooking the pasta by calling for extra liquid to rehydrate regular lasagna noodles during baking. Those dishes generally turn out chewy lasagna and require a lengthier baking time.

No need for extra liquid with the pre-boiled frozen noodles from Marzetti's. Simply snap apart the frozen sheets as they come right from the box and layer them, still frozen, with lasagna ingredients. It's easy to spread fillings on these noodles because they're stiff and sturdy.

If they happen to thaw, Mrs. Garloch said, use a table knife to separate the sheets.

The final step to delicious lasagna is to bake the pan uncovered or microwave loosely covered with plastic wrap. Either way, you have a steaming casserole of semi-homemade lasagna in about 30 minutes.

Microwaving takes a bit less time, and Mrs. Garloch said the noodles retain more of a pleasant al dente texture when microwaved.

Marzetti's expects that cooks will go for the new-style noodles to simplify making their favorite family or company casserole.

The only quibble I have about the new product is the size. They're shaped like regular lasagna strips, but to cover a 13x9-inch baking pan takes three across and one lengthwise, plus a half-noodle stripped in.

How much more convenient if the lasagna sheets were manufactured in two sizes: 9-inch squares to layer in a square baking pan for smaller households and 13x9-inch rectangles for family-size and company lasagna.

There's no rule that says lasagna noodles must be made a few inches wide. Make 'em pan-size, I say. Mrs. Garloch said she'd take that suggestion back to the company.

If you want to try your hand at making home-style noodles from scratch, they really don't have to be rolled out and dried. Just make them and use them, cooking only briefly.

Homemade noodles: Beat 2 eggs with a fork in a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Measure out 11/2 cups to 2 cups all-purpose flour. Stir enough of the flour into egg mixture to make a dry dough, a bit crumbly at first. Stop adding flour when particles are still damp enough to be gathered into a ball. Knead the firm dough in both hands until smooth and not floury. Divide in half.

Now the hard work begins. Roll out as thinly as possible by bearing down with a large rolling pin from the middle out to each edge. Repeat with second half of dough. Flouring the counter will probably not be necessary because the dough is not sticky.

Let dough rest while bringing chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Slice noodle dough into small squares or strips and transfer a few at a time to boiling broth. Cook uncovered about 15 minutes after all noodles are added, depending on size of noodles. Take out one and taste it to judge doneness.

Stir in chopped cooked chicken and ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.




1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 (48-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce

2 eggs, beaten

1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese or nonfat cottage cheese, blended

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup broccoli, coarsely chopped

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup seeded tomatoes, chopped

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (16-ounce) package frozen lasagna sheets

Yield: 8 servings

Prep time: 30 minutes

Baking: 25 minutes

Cook mushrooms, onion, garlic and green pepper in butter for several minutes, until just tender. Stir often. Stir in spaghetti sauce; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs to blend with a fork. Stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, broccoli, zucchini and tomatoes.

Spoon 1 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Place 3 individual frozen lasagna sheets (1 large sheet) lengthwise over sauce and 1 individual sheet horizontally. Strip in 1/2 of an individual sheet lengthwise to complete coverage. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta-vegetable mixture evenly over noodles. Top with 11/2 cups of sauce, then 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat procedure for second layer. Place 4 remaining sheets on top. Spread with remaining sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella.

Cover loosely with heavy-duty plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 14 to 16 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Rotate a half-turn halfway through. Let stand 10 minutes.

Or bake conventionally, uncovered, in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.


8 cups beef broth

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small ribs of celery, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

4 peppercorns

1 small bay leaf

3 whole cloves

12 ounces frozen or homemade egg noodles

2 cups tomato juice

4 cups frozen or canned vegetable pieces (your choice)

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Yield: 12 servings, each 1 cup

Prep time: 40 minutes

Pour broth in large soup pot. Add onion, celery, parsley. Tie peppercorns, bay leaf and cloves in a small square of cheesecloth or put in a tea ball. Add to broth. Bring to a boil; boil for 25 minutes (homemade noodles take less time than frozen). Add tomato juice and vegetables and cook 10 minutes more. Remove peppercorns, bay leaf and cloves. Serve hot.

- Recipes adapted from Marzetti's.

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