I've become rather enamored of lentils lately. They're cheap, versatile, and more nutritious than carbohydrates like rice and pasta (lentils are a legume, like beans). They're a go-to ingredient when you want to stretch a meal a bit further.
Lentils and sausage are a classic combination, often as a stew, probably because it's such an affordable way to serve a lot of people. The sausage becomes a seasoning, rather than the main event.
This recipe, from Stéphane Reynaud's Pork & Sons (previously a "Cook the Book" on Serious Eats), simmers the sausages in the same pot as the lentils so the flavors and fats infuse. The earthy lentils are then tossed with a balsamic-based vinaigrette that's fortified with a little bacon (which is never a bad thing), then topped with the sausage. The original recipe was more complicated and called for walnut oil, but I simplified, replacing it with olive oil, and was happy with the results.
Warm Sausage and Lentil Salad
- 2 1/4 cups green lentils, preferably Puy, the French green kind
- 2 links Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound
- 1/3 cup chopped bacon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Balsamic vinegar to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts (optional)
- Slim bunch of chives, chopped
Simmer lentils with sausage in plenty of water and a bouquet garni (French for "garnished bouquet"; optional), for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through. (Other types of lentils will require less cooking time.)
In the meantime, saute the bacon over medium heat until browned but not crisp.
Combine the Dijon, olive oil, shallots, chives, and bacon with its fat in a small jar or bowl. Shake well or whisk, then add the balsamic vinegar little by little to form a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
Once cooled, slice the sausage. Toss the lentils with the vinaigrette and top with the sliced sausage. Finish with a little chopped shallot, chive, and the hazelnuts.