Upfront disclaimer: this is not your grandmother’s lasagna-making story.

On Friday, I set out to make a lasagna for dinner.  I’d had an idea for an unusual concoction in my head all week – layers of meatballs instead of meat sauce and a mixture of ricotta and bechamel white sauce. A “white lasagna”of sorts. 

(I know, I said it at the beginning, not your grandma’s lasagna.)

Here’s the basic ingredients:

  • pork and fennel sausages
  • fresh ricotta
  • butter, flour and milk
  • chopped tomato, garlic and red peppers

I don’t really use measurements, and such things depend on personal preferences and lasagna size.  But these are the building blocks of the recipe (if you should so care to replicate).

First, I finely chopped some red peppers, blended 2 vine-ripened tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic to make a liquid sauce, and added the capsicum, salt and a little cracked pepper. Then, because I’ve never been very successful at making meatballs, and my butcher puts together some really great meat-flavor combinations, I squeezed out some tiny meatballs from fresh pork and fennel sausages. After sautéing the meatballs briefly, I popped them into the oven to for about 15 minutes at 220C to finish them off, and started my bechamel sauce.

I planned to pair my lasagna with herb-roasted potatoes and mixed green salad. And, since I like the lasagna to sit a bit before cooking, I was way ahead of the game.  I pulled the sausage out of the oven, and prepared to layer up some cheesy meatbally goodness.

Note:  At this stage, when attempting to scoop out meatballs to rest on a plate,  try NOT to be a complete idiot and grab the oven-hot pan with your bare hand.  Always remember, in the oven for 15 minutes = hot as Hades!!

Note 2: for advice on how to treat a burned hand, read on.

While running my scorched hand in pain under cold running water, I grabbed my iPhone nearby and scrolled for home remedy solutions to heat burns.  Upon the master goggle’s suggestion, and since I had a boatload of ’em nearby waiting to be chopped and cooked for dinner, I sliced open a potato and grasped it in my hand, and continued on my lasagna mission.

Although this may sound a little crazy, it was actually heaps of fun.  I’m pretty into cooking shows, and the one-handed or otherwise handicapped challenge is a constant theme.  I am proud to say that I managed to layer my lasagna, chop potatoes and mix with herbs and oil, drop potatoes and lasagna in oven and roast/cook to perfection with only one hand!

Yes, so the major parts of the cooking prep work were already over, but I was surprised with how well I could manage with only one hand!  Oh and, if you were wondering how to finish off the lasagna, just tie a hand behind one back, scoop out meatballs from saucepan, layer on top of no-bake lasagna noodles with pepper and tomato sauce, alternate layers with handfuls of fresh ricotta and a generous ladelful of bechamel, and top with grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese to form a thick crust.  Pop into the oven at 220C for 35-45 minutes and voila, one-handed white lasagna!

Oh and, if your husband happens to come home and help you slice and serve it up (and eat it of course) that’s a great help….

Note 3: Turns out, potato juice really does work for a burned hand.  Use an appropriately sized potato and score the flesh periodically to release more juice (this is what seems to neutralize the burn).  Running cold water also helped.  I soaked my hand in so much water and potato juice that it looked terrible that night — all pruned and wrinkled up — but fantastic the next morning.  There’s barely any scar (and I full on gripped that pan!).

Cooking and medicinal success!