Lentils with Italian Sausages and Gremolata

As winter takes hold of Sydney (it was a freezing 8ºC today!!), it’s time to bring out the comfort food classics. I’ve already made leek & potato soup, risotto and even freshly baked sourdough this week so today it made perfect sense (to me) to make one of my favourites – sausages and lentils. I love using lentils as the main focus of a meal – together with good quality Italian sausages (mine were actually delicious mini Spanish sausages, but we’ll ignore this technicality) it makes for a warm, rustic and comforting dinner. I deliberately made more than I needed – I looked at the weather report a day ahead and it’s going to be cold again tomorrow. Lunch. Sorted.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 3-4 – depending on how hungry or cold it is outside)
1 medium onion (finely diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely diced)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 slices fresh lemon rind
1 cup puy lentils
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups hot chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt & pepper

For the gremolata:
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove (very finely chopped)
zest of the remaining lemon

500g Italian sausages
4 tablespoons olive oil

To make the gremolata, combine all the ingredients and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 4-5 minutes until soft. Turn up the heat and add the fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, lemon rind and lentils and stir well for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir for 30 seconds or so to burn off all the alcohol and reduce the liquid. Pour in the hot chicken stock and stir. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low to simmer gently for 40-60 minutes (cooking time differs from lentil to lentil). Remove the lid half way through to reduce the liquid until it’s almost gone. The lentils should be soft but still holding their shape. You can pick out the lemon rinds and bay leaf at this point. Stir in the butter and half the gremolata. Season generously with salt & pepper then cover.

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil and sausages (add the sausages when the oil is cold – this helps stop the skins splitting). Cook the sausages until nicely browned on all sides – leave them to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of lentils and then top with the sausages – sprinkle with more gremolata and then EAT!!. I added some steamed broccoli and brussel sprouts to the plate too to help with a bit of greenery.

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