Thursday, December 26

Italian Comfort Food for New Year's Eve: Stewed Lentils with Sausage

photo: Simply Recipes
I love good comfort food, chicken noodle soup when your sick, meatloaf and mashed potatoes that remind me of being a kid, you know the classics. But the longer I live in Italy, the more I love Italian comfort food and wish I had been raised on passatelli in brodo, potatoes and cabbage mash or pasta norcina. Another classic Italian comfort food - stewed lentils with sausages. Lentils are very Italian and found in many dishes across the boot, but they are eaten most during the holidays. On New Year's Eve it is best to eat a few spoonfuls of stewed lentils with your cotechino to ensure fortune in the coming year! But the best lentils in Italy are from the tiny mountain top village of Castelluccio di Norcia on the Marche-Umbria border.  The tiny greenish/brown legumes are not only known for their soft skin & creamy texture, but the beauty of the fields in May-June when the lentils are in bloom! (Read this past post for photos and more about Norcia.)

Stewed Lentils with Sausages
lenticchie in umido con salsicce

Serves 4

6 Tablspoons/80 ml Olive oil
1 carrot small, diced
1 onion small, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
2-3 leaves of sage
250 grams/a little over a cup of lentils left to soak in cold water for a few hours
4 sausages
200 ml or 1 cup of passed tomatoes (pomodoro passato) or pureed tomatoes
2-4 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
salt & pepper

In a heavy bottomed pot on low heat add olive oil and gently sweat the garlic, celery, carrot and onion with a crack of salt and pepper. Once the vegetables are soft, turn up the heat a bit adding the sausages. Cook the sausages on all sides just to get them started.

Add in the sage leaf (you can add or substitute any herbs you like). Drain the lentils, then add them to the pot along with the tomatoes. Pour about 2 cups of stock (or 400 ml) into the pot and bring up to a slow simmer.

Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, adding a little stock if it begins to look too thick.

To finish, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, fish out the sage and garlic if you like.
Drizzle good extra virgin olive oil and serve with crunchy toasty bread.


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