Lenticchie (Italian Lentil-Sausage Stew)

An Italian tradition is to serve Lenticche at midnight on New Year's Eve, to bring good fortune and hope that you will not want for cash in the following year. The lentils symbolize little coins. Italian dishes tend to be seasonal, so this is a tasty choice for late fall/early winter.
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My sister Cheri was a young bride when she married Mario V. in 1980. A few years later they moved to Ostia, Italy. She learned some of her Italian cooking by watching her mother-in-law, but mostly by tasting and recreating what she tasted.

The first time she had Lenticchie was on New Year's Eve at their friend's parent's house in Ostia. It was served at midnight, and this was when she learned about the neat tradition. This version is definitely Americanized, as the true recipe calls for a gelatinous sausage-stuffed pig foot (No thank you, I'll pass!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package smoked sausage (can use beef or turkey), diced
  • 1 bag lentils
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups chicken stock (maybe a little more)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter/margarine
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  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (or 2 cloves, finely minced)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh, chopped rosemary (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse the lentils in a colander, and pick the bad pieces out. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Add diced carrots, celery and onion to make the soffrito. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add in minced garlic and cook until carrots are softened.

Add sausage and about *4 cups chicken stock. Next add lentils, potatoes, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook about 45 minutes, or until lentils are soft and potatoes are cooked through. Taste to adjust salt and pepper as needed.

* Important Note: Watch the liquid levels as the lentils soak up the stock. Add more chicken stock as needed to achieve a stew consistency (not too thick, not too soupy).

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Servings: 6-8?
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 60 Minutes

By Beth from Dublin, OH

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