In an Irish accent, I said “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” when I took a bite of this tonight. God-DAMN I love when I go with the mojo, improvise, use the knowledge I’ve gathered as well as some research and the package instructions, and just make a taint-masseuse of a dish. Such is the case with the Lentils and Grilled Italian Sausage above. ‘Tis easy, deep, primal, and altogether exemplary.
I learned how to cook lentils from my Aunt Anna. One day, I wanted the lentil soup that I had had so many times at my nonna’s, and my pop told me to call his sister, my aunt, because she makes it best. I’ll never forget that phone call, truly, because it was the first time I actually reached out to a relative for a food recipe, which is something everyone should do if they want to learn how to cook what they love from their childhood. She told me that the recipe is simple, revealed the ingredients, and then she threw forth the little tricks to make it exceptional, like using beef broth and the right amount of salt. Only the pros do this, and from memory. That was the beginning. Since then, I’ve made lentil soup, pasta with lentils, Indian spiced lentils (it will be on here later), and a bunch of other recipes with them.
So tonight’s a Steak and Sherlock Night, meaning that I get to make whatever my giant heart desires because the wife is at the in-laws with the kid. Moreover, lentils aren’t her favorite.
A few days ago, I bought some red split lentils from Trader Joe’s (http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=767). Since spring is about two weeks away, I have a limited time to indulge in the hearty winter meals that I love. Thus, tonight the stage was set for some lentils and Italian sausage. The recipe below is mine. You can use any type of lentil, but look at the package and adjust the cooking time and liquid for the lentils accordingly. The split red lentils I used tonight, for example, take about half the time than whole lentils (go fucking figure). I’m clever like that.
Lentils and Grilled Italian Sausage
(Serves 4 Irvine-like People drinking Chardonnay Lite, or 2 Gluttons)
2 cups split red lentils (or any type of lentil, but adjust the cooking time accordingly, wise guy)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 carrots, peeled, split lengthwise into quarters, and then sliced thinly
1 big celery stalk, diced
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine (vermouth or white wine works too in a pinch)
5 cups beef broth (again, adjust according to the lentils)
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (Be careful with this. Use a bit and then taste it later. The broth and the sausages will give it lots of salt, too.)
3 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley (regular works too, kiddo)
4 grilled Italian sausages, sweet or hot depending on what blows your hair back
Over medium high heat, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid or a pot with a lid. Add the onion, carrots, and carrot. Cook them for about seven minutes until they’re soft and happy. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Add the lentils and get them coated with everything.
Add in the wine, broth, pepper, and salt (again, careful). Bring it to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook it for 13 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid. Uncover it and taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
To serve, spoon about 1 1/2 cups in a large pasta bowl. Top with slices of grilled sausage, parsley, and parmesan. You will get this:
A small side salad would probably lighten this up a bit but, personally, fuck salad with this. I want more of the lentils and sausage, the world be damned.
Warm up some crusty Italian or French bread, and you’re getting laid tonight, even if you’re alone.
And before the first bite, raise the glasses and say it loudly, say it clearly, and make conservative people repeat it unknowingly:
Acqua fresca, Vino Puro,
Fica Stretta, Cazzo Duro.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013