Sausages and lentils
I didn’t leave the office until 7:30 this evening, and although cooking is often the last thing I want to do after a particularly long day, today it felt like exactly the right thing for switching my mind out of work mode.
Sausage and lentils
1 pack sausages – I used chipolatas today but would normally go for a chunkier version, perhaps herbed
1/2 glass red wine (optional)
250g puy lentils (or green lentils are fine)
1 clove garlic, whole, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
small bunch parsley – finely chop the leaves, set aside the stalks
4 tbsp good olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
1 tin tomatoes, blended
1 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, mushed
1 small stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Start the tomato sauce by frying the onions and mushed garlic in a little olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add the cinnamon stick and dried chilli. When the onions are starting to turn golden, stir in the red wine vinegar (don’t inhale, the steam will make you choke!), and then add the blended tomatoes. Make sure its on a low-medium heat, pop a lid on, and leave it to bubble away while you get on with everything else. (Check occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking or burning).
Now put your lentils on to boil. They should only take about 20 minutes (check packet instructions). Add the garlic clove, bay leaf and parsley stalks (not the leaves) to the water, to flavour the lentils as they cooked.
While the lentils boil and the sauce simmers, start frying your sausages. You don’t need me to tell you how to do this, just make sure you get some lovely colour on them! I prefer to do this in a regular pan rather than non-stick, just so that I get some lovely stickiness on the bottom of the pan to turn into a bit of gravy at the end. If you do this, you just need to keep an eye on it, making sure the heat isn’t too high, so that it doesn’t end up burnt.
Once your lentils are boiled, drain off most of the remaining water (if there is any). Pick out and get rid of the bay leaf and parsley stalks. Push the garlic cloves out of their skins, mush them up and stir the soft flesh back into the lentils, along with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and the parsley leaves (save a bit of the parsley for garnishing at the end). You’re basically dressing the lentils in the way you might do a salad. Season and adjust the olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste. I prefer mine a little on the tangy side.
By now, your sausages should be perfectly cooked. If you want a bit of gravy, now’s the time to slosh in your red wine (although I used white wine this evening and it worked just as well). As it bubbles away, use a wooden spoon to scrape all the delicious sticky sausage goo from the bottom of the pan. Pop a lid on and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. You should be left with a few tablespoons of dark, intense gravy. That might not seem like much at all, but it’s not bangers and mash! You only need to drizzle about a tablespoon of it over each dish. If you don’t have any wine to hand, I’ve actually made the gravy with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a splosh of water, and it’s worked out just fine.
Plate up – a pile of lentils, a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, a couple of sausages , a drizzle of gravy, and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Now, a dinner with three separate elements might sound overcomplex, but it’s just a case of getting the timings right, and pouring yourself a glass of wine to enjoy as you cook.