This recipe, Sausages and Lentils in the Style of Umbria, is from Domenica Marchetti's cookbook The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.
Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings
This is a classic stew from the hill towns of Umbria, where it is prepared with freshly made sweet sausages and tiny green-brown lentils from the fields of Castelluccio. The lentils are renowned throughout Italy and beyond for their delicate flavor and thin skins, which practically disappear during cooking while the legumes retain their shape and toothy texture. Lentils from Castelluccio, as well as other similar Italian lentils, are available at some Italian delicatessens and gourmet food stores and by mail order, but if you can't find them, use plain brown lentils. This is a perfect meal to make on a cold, windy day, when the last of the leaves are falling and you need a bowl of comfort.
Put the lentils in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the water, 1 of the garlic cloves, the 1-inch piece celery, the bay leaf, and the salt.
Bring the lentils to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until just slightly undercooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add sausages and cook, turning them as needed, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Remove the sausages to a plate, leaving the fat in the pot.
Add the remaining garlic clove, the chopped celery, and the onion to the pot and saute the vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they have softened and are pale gold but not browned. Pour in the tomato sauce, stir well, and then pour in the broth, again stirring to combine thoroughly. Return the sausages to the pot and add the lentils. Season the stew with freshly ground pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are completely tender.
Discard the bay leaf. Serve the stew in shallow bowls.
The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy
by Domenica Marchetti
Photography by William Meppem
Chronicle Books, 2006
29 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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