No, silly, I’m not cooking arms. Or arm, for that matter. I decided to title this lasagna, “One Arm Lasagna’ because that’s all the help I could get from my body at the time I needed to make this. You gotta do what you gotta do when there’s an infant who needs to be fed and dinner that needs to be cooked. Somehow you just get it done. And it came out great! It’s a very hearty dish that has a relatively good amount of healthiness to it. I use whole wheat noodles, part skim dairy, lean meat, there’s a good amount of vegetables in it, and I discovered a really easy way to cheat a bechamel sauce considering I only had the one arm to use. I will use this trick any time I need it in a baked dish, I’m so sorry I’ve wasted so much time doing it the longer way before! All you’re doing, essentially, is whisking some flour into your cold milk. That’s it! And the oven takes care of the thickening part. Awesome.
By the way, did you know it was possible to sing in your sleep? I was singing, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ to my daughter sometime in the middle of the night and then woke up, several minutes later on the third verse.
*One Arm Lasagna or Sausage and Spinach White Lasagna
-Boil 1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles in heavily salted water. Drain. Set aside.
*For the meat filling…
-In a large saute pan, sweat out 3 large carrots, 1 large stalk of celery, and 1 small onion, all minced in a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
-Add to the pan 1 1/2 lbs. ground lean Italian sausage. Break up with a wooden spoon into small pieces. Season with about 1 1/2 tsp each of dried sage and ground fennel seeds.
-With a microplane, grate in 5 cloves of garlic. (or mince)
-Once the veggies have softened, and the sausage browned, turn off the heat and set aside.
*For the ricotta filling…
-In a medium bowl, empty the contents of 1 32 ounce and 1 15 ounce container of part skim ricotta cheese (if you can get your hands on some local, fresh ricotta, please use it! Or make your own.)
-Season with a good amount of salt (taste as you go, the salt content of ricotta differs drastically depending on which kind you use) and pepper.
-Mix in 1 beaten egg. Stir to combine, set aside.
*For the ‘bechamel’…
-In a small bowl, pour 2 cans of evaporated lowfat milk, season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add in 2 TB of flour. Whisk well until the flour ‘disappears’ into the milk. Set aside.
*And the Spinach…
-Defrost 2 boxes of chopped, frozen spinach in the microwave. Squeeze all the water out. Set aside.
*And the Cheese…
-Grate 3 1/2-4 cups of lowfat mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
-Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13in baking dish.
-Pour a bit of your ‘bechamel’ into the bottom, spread evenly to coat.
-Layer 1/4 of your noodles along the bottom, overlapping a bit if necessary.
-Dollop and spread 1/3 of your ricotta mixture along the noodles.
-Then 1/3 of your meat mixture.
-Then 1/3 of your spinach.
-Then 1/3 of your ‘bechamel’.
-Sprinkle with 1/4 of your mozzarella cheese.
-Repeat everything a total of 3 times, then finish with the final layer of noodles, topped with the final layer of mozzarella.
-Cover with foil* and place on a large cookie sheet covered with foil to collect the inevitable spills.
-Bake at 375 for an hour, until gold and bubbly.
-Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
(*spray the inside of the foil piece with cooking spray before covering the casserole, this will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.)