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Lentils and Sausage

The region of Umbria is famous for lentils and the most famous are the creamy lentils of Castelluccio, grown on the high plains near the Sibillini Mountains between the regions of Umbria and the Marche. The small round seeds are an ancient food, known in biblical times and found in many cultures worldwide. Lentils of Castelluccio have IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) status and are very different from other varieties. The seeds are flat and vary in color from green to brown and yellow. Lentil seeds are planted in the spring and the plants harvested in late summer and left to dry in order to extract the seeds. The lentils of Castelluccio are not only creamy in texture but are thin-skinned, eliminating the need for soaking them before cooking. This versatile legume is often teamed with the delicious pork sausage that Umbria is noted for. Other uses include in salads and soups. Lentils are a rich source of protein and vitamins. Serves 4 to 6
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups lentils

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage links

1/4 cup diced pancetta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large leek, white bulb only, cut into thin rings

2 ribs celery, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry red wine (We used Soave.)

2 cups coarsely chopped plum tomatoes

5 cups vegetable or beef stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pour the olive oil into a heavy-duty oven to table pot and brown the sausage along with the pancetta over medium high heat. Transfer the sausage and pancetta to a dish and set aside.

Sauté the leek, celery and carrot in the pan drippings until they soften. Stir in the garlic and cook until it softens.

Raise the heat to high, and pour in the wine; allow it to come to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and stir in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the lentils. Return the sausage and pancetta to the pan and cover the mixture with the vegetable or beef stock.

Cover the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Serve directly from the pan or a lipped serving platter.

This recipe is featured on Show 2710 – Legumes for Health.

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