Can You Bake a Large Pan of Lasagna From a Frozen State?by Cassie Damewood
Even if cooking is your passion, there are some days you just don't have the energy or time to make a meal from scratch. As an alternative to take-out, cold cut sandwiches, or pre-fab microwave meals, keep a pan of lasagna in your freezer for a hearty and satisfying family meal that you can just pop into the oven for dinner. If you have the foresight, remove the lasagna from the freezer the night before and let it slowly thaw in the refrigerator to decrease the baking time. However, if your lasagna is frozen solid, you can still bake it with the same mouthwatering results.
To prepare unbaked lasagna for freezing, line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan or casserole dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use pieces of foil long enough to hang several inches over each side of the pan. Prepare the recipe in the foil-lined pan and freeze until firm, uncovered. Carefully lift the frozen lasagna out of the pan and fold and seal the foil to tightly enclose it. Wrap it again in foil and place into a zipper-closure freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before freezing. Bake the frozen lasagna according to directions, doubling the baking time. You can also lower the recommended baking temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and increase the recommended baking time by one-half hour to cook the lasagna more slowly. Start testing the middle of the lasagna with a quick read meat thermometer near the end of the baking time. When it's between 160 and 165 F, remove from the oven and let it set up at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Since frozen baked lasagna is already cooked, reheating it requires lower temperatures to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Freeze it the same way as uncooked lasagna and, if possible, defrost it first for quicker reheating. To bake it from a frozen state, preheat the oven to 250 F and check it after an hour and a half of baking to monitor the progress. To crisp up the top, put it under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.
For quick lunches or dinners for individuals, package lasagna portions in individual serving containers. Double-wrap each of the servings in foil before placing them into containers. If reheating in the oven, transfer the portions to oven-proof casserole dishes and bake at 350 F for 30 to 45 minutes, periodically checking the internal temperature. To reheat frozen lasagna portions in a microwave, remove the foil, place in a microwave-safe container, cover, and microwave at 50 percent power for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Even if your lasagna is properly wrapped, don't freeze it beyond one month or you risk freezer burn and dissipation in flavor. Don't skimp on packaging materials and make sure each package is tightly sealed by folding over the foil seams a couple of times before tightly crimping them. Cool baked lasagna before freezing it as harmful bacteria can contaminate food that is placed hot into a freezer before cooling.
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