the appetizer:

This recipe, Sausages and Lentils in the Style of Umbria, is from Domenica Marchetti's cookbook The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.


Sausages and Lentils  

Sausages and Lentils in the Style of Umbria
Salsicce e Lenticchie all'Umbriana

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.

  • 1-3/4 cups brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 1 rib celery, trimmed and finely chopped except for a 1-inch piece
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 fresh sweet Italian sausages, halved crosswise to make 12 pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup Salsa Semplice di Pomodoro (page 30 of the book)
         or best-quality commercial tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Brodo di Came (page 26) or best-quality canned low-sodium
         beef broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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
$19.95/trade paperback
29 color photographs
ISBN: 0811848175
Recipe reprinted by permission.


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This page created February 2007

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