Lasagna is a classic comfort food; you can prepare it in advance and cook it later. Baking lasagna in the oven, especially with uncooked noodles, can take a long time. Instead, create microwave lasagna -- an easy go-to meal for the work week.
Benefits of Microwave Cooking
Microwave lasagna can involve a quickly cooked, freshly assembled lasagna or a pre-made frozen one. Microwaving cooks the lasagna much faster than an oven, and you do not need to wait for the oven to heat up. However, the faster cooking time means you need to pay a bit more attention when microwaving to prevent your lasagna from drying out or cooking unevenly.
What You Need
Rather than a metal baking pan, use a microwave-safe dish. A square, or rectangular, glass or ceramic baking dish will work well. You will also need plastic wrap instead of aluminum foil to cook your lasagna in the microwave.
Regardless of your filling choice, cook and season it on the stove top prior to cooking your lasagna. The filling does not need to be hot when you cook the lasagna, but to ensure food safety, fully cook the dish before you assemble it. Mix the sauce and seasoned filling for easier assembly. Filling ideas include:
- Ground meats, such as beef, chicken, veal or turkey
- Chopped, cooked sausage
- A mix of vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, carrots and zucchini for a vegetarian lasagna
- Chopped onions
- Minced garlic
- Fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, thyme or rosemary
- Spices such as dried chili flakes, black pepper and paprika
As with the filling, cook the noodles prior to assembling the lasagna. Because microwave ovens heat foods unevenly, using uncooked noodles can lead to pieces of uncooked pasta in your lasagna.
To avoid overcooked, mushy pasta, cook your noodles until they are just before al dente -- roughly six minutes in boiling, salted water.
Assembling and Cooking
Before assembling, arrange all of your lasagna ingredients -- the filling, sauce, noodles and shredded cheese -- on the counter or table for easy access.
Start with a layer of noodles on the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of sauce and filling, then a layer of cheese. Repeat until you reach the top of the pan. The final layer should be only of noodles, followed by a thicker layer of shredded cheese.
Cover the lasagna with plastic wrap, leaving one corner exposed for steam to escape during cooking.
Microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes, until the lasagna is warmed through. Let it rest five minutes before serving.
As microwaves cook unevenly, rotate your lasagna every three to five minutes during cooking to ensure even heating.
Storing Before Cooking
Microwave lasagna is easy to assemble beforehand, ready to cook just before serving it. Microwave lasagna can be frozen and then reheated in the microwave. Remember to always use a microwave-safe dish and cover.
Heat the frozen lasagna -- covered with plastic wrap, one corner open -- on high for 20 to 30 minutes.
Rotate the lasagna every five minutes until the lasagna is heated through. Let the lasagna rest for five minutes, covered, before serving.
Do not thaw the lasagna before microwaving.
Freezing the lasagna
Cover the container with an airtight lid or several layers of plastic wrap. Place the lasagna in the back of the freezer until you are ready to eat it.
The lasagna will keep, frozen, for two months.
Variations and Additions
Make individual serving lasagna rolls. Roll cooked lasagna noodles, filled with cheese and filling, and top them with tomato sauce and more cheese before cooking.
While tomato sauce is the classic pairing for lasagna, consider other types of sauces, such as pesto, for a lighter tasting lasagna.
Using more than one variety of cheese will give your lasagna more flavor. Choose a good melting cheese, such as mozzarella, and a sharper tasting one, such as Parmesan, for a gooey, cheesy lasagna.