I love a lentil.
But I particularly love a Puy Lentil. I love the earthy colour but mostly I love the fact that they hold their shape and don’t turn to mush when you cook them. Surely nobody is a fan of mush.
Food shopping has certainly improved in leaps and bounds in the 8 years that we have lived here in Dubai. Now that we have Waitrose (yes, really) and some great specialist delicatessens to supplement the local shops, markets and the ubiquitous big, french supermarkets, we are pretty close to being able to get hold of everything. When my lovely husband and I came out to Dubai to do our ‘look see’ visit before we took the leap to move out here, these were the photos that we took to show our then 7 and 5 year old sons that life here was really not going to be that much of a change to living in the UK. Blimey, that obsession with Bran Flakes, really did start young. And then, as now, for them, if you can eat the breakfast cereal that you like, life is pretty much OK ….
Sometimes particular ingredients can be tricky to get hold of here and for a while Puy lentils was one of them. On a summer trip to France, I took the failings of the Dubai supply chain into my own hands and stocked up on several kilos of the little green beauties, which I stashed in my suitcase and transported back home. I guess it goes without saying that on my return the supermarket shelves were over-flowing with the flippin things. That was the year of the Puy lentil for sure.
Maybe it’s genetic. As a child, I can remember taking our first family trip to France and being super excited at all the romantic markets and exotic foodstuffs that we discovered there. My Mum bought jars and jars of Bonne Maman jam as gifts for her friends – only to find it lining the shelves in her local Tesco supermarket when she got home.
But let’s get back to the lentils. It’s true to say that lentils are pretty grim on their own but they are the most perfect base for a whole host of flavours and are certainly a very handy ingredient to be able to use in your ‘food for busy lives’ armoury. And this Sausage and Puy Lentil Pot is the dish that I return to the most often. It really is bang-on for a midweek dinner.
And here’s 10 reasons why I’m certain that it will appear again and again on your dinner table too –
- It’s tasty. Those lardons, the garlic and the rosemary infuse the lentils with their flavour and they truly are transformed. You could imagine you’re in rural France. Grab a jar of Bonne Maman jam to complete the scene.
- Introducing sausages is always a game changer, particularly when trying to create a family dinner to keep everyone happy.
- It’s just right for little mouths and big man-sized mouths too.
- It lends itself perfectly to being prepared ahead of time (up to the end of stage 5) and then finished off when you are nearly ready to eat.
- I serve it simply, with a couple of green vegetables but it stands well on its own too. A bit of crusty bread would never go amiss. It’s those juices you know …
- It’s super filling – that’s the name of the game with lentils.
- Leftovers are great for lunch the following day – slice up the sausages to make it go further.
- Freezes like a dream.
- And if sausages are not for you, try passing on them and serving the lentils with perhaps some chunky white fish or a fillet of salmon.
- Boy, I wish I could think of a 10th reason. Any suggestions?!
So, are you going to be declaring undying love for this Sausage and Puy Lentil Pot. Go on – I dare you. It’s sure to be more than a one-night stand if you do …
- 2 x 400g (1lb) packets of sausages
- 150g (5oz) pack lardons
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 300g (10oz) Puy Lentils
- 1.15 litres (2 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 400g (1lb) can chopped tomatoes
- salt and pepper.
- small bunch flatleaf parsley, chopped
- Brown the sausages in which ever way you would choose. My preference would be under the grill.
- Brown the lardons in a large casserole or saute pan (big enough to hold the whole dish). There's no need to add oil - the lardons will provide their own.
- Add the onions, carrot and garlic to the lardons and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the onions are softened.
- Add the sausages, rosemary, lentils, stock, vinegar and chopped tomatoes to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix throughly and gently bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 5 minutes. Now lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check in every so often to be sure that you don't need to add any more liquid. At this stage, the dish can be chilled to reheat later or frozen.
- Check the seasoning, scatter over the parsley and serve from the pan.