The weather has changed here in the last few days. I can't believe I've become such a wimp that I think it's cold here in California, after living in Illinois for so many years. But, it feels pretty dreary here, with the rain and cold weather (yes,cold). Feeling a need for something comforting and substantial, lentils and sausages seemed just the thing to make me feel better. As I made Nigella's recipe for onion jam, I decided to use her recipe for this too. But, right off the bat, there was a problem. I was annoyed to find that Puy lentils are no longer sold in Davis. They're dark lentils that come in a green box. Well, that's the only brand that was sold here, so I always look for the green box. But, suddenly they're no longer available. We really do need Trader Joe's to come to town, as has been promised!
Why Puy lentils? They're better for this kind of dish because the lentils should be somewhat firm and hold their shape. However, the craving for lentils and sausage was upon me, so I bought regular gray lentils. Here is Nigella's recipe. I used the full amount of garlic.
• 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• sprinkling of salt
• 12 ounces Puy lentils
• 1-3 fat cloves garlic, squished with the side of a knife, and skin removed
• 8 Italian sausages
• 1/4 cup red wine
• 1/2 water
• flat-leaf parsley for sprinkling
To cook the lentils, put 2-3 tablespoons of the oil into a good-sized saucepan (and one which has a lid that fits) on the heat and when it's warm add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt and cook over low to medium heat till soft (about 5 minutes). Add the lentils, stir well and then cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil then cover, and let simmer gently for half an hour or so until cooked and most of the the liquid's absorbed. Salt to taste if you want--but the sauce from the sausages is salty and it will be poured on the lentils. I don't add salt at this stage since the sauce provided by the sausages later will be pretty salty itself.
For the sausages, put a film of oil in a heavy skillet and add the bruised garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add and brown the sausages. When the sausages are brown on both sides - which won't take more than five minutes or so - throw in the wine and water and let bubble up. Cover the pan, with a lid or tin foil, turn heat to medium, and cook for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, mash the soft garlic into the sauce and taste for seasoning, adding a little more water if it's too strong. To serve, put lentils in a shallow dish, place sausages on top, and pour some of the garlicky sauce over them. Throw some chopped flat-leaf parsley on top.
Well, the lentils were a little soft, and didn't hold their shape as well as the puy variety. I thought it could have been better, but my husband, Bob, seemed to enjoy it and ate all the lentils. Looking at the picture, it occurs to me that the dish looks like something they would serve on Fear Factor.