I don’t know about you, but I like staying at home when everybody is at work. From time to time I take one or two days off just to charge my batteries back. I usually don’t do anything special, but I need some time for myself. The last few weeks were kind of crazy, so I feel blessed that I can just hang around and cook, take some pictures, read a book or watch a movie. Another thing is, in Luxembourg we have 35 days of holidays- yes! At some point you just realize you HAVE to take some time off in order to use them all up. This morning I woke up and was wondering what I should cook. I went for a walk to the city center, and when I got back home I knew it would be lentils. It was so cold outside! The winter is almost here. For my boyfriend and I it means we are back to lentils, white beans and other dry grains, because we love them when it gets cold, rainy and windy. It’s the best food ever for this time of the year. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you probably remember that this summer I went to Sicily and explored the food market in Siracusa. And among many things which I bought that time, I also got these lentils…
I hope you agree these are absolute beauties! Lentils are very popular in Italian cuisine, in my country not so much. Enough to say that I started eating them when I moved to Ireland and was spending more time with Italians 🙂 My favorite combination is lentils. tomato sauce and carrots. I make this dish in two versions- vegetarian/vegan or with some pancetta or sausages. Here I used three very thin slices of pancetta, but if you’re vegan and vegetarian of course simply don’t do that. Also, what’s new is the addition of white beans with some goose fat. For those of you who haven’t come across with it- in France goose fat is very popular, and a few months ago I had the occasion to use it for my first cassoulet dish- I will share this recipe with you soon. I have to say white beans in tomato sauce with goose fat are delicious! So if you haven’t tried it yet, make it up. It’s worth it! I called this recipe Spicy Lentils, because I used some spices- red sweet pepper, some black, red and white pepper and pepperoncini. All these goodies I brought of course from Siracusa 🙂
Makes at least 6 big servings, preparation time about 20 min, cooking time around 40 min
- 300 g of lentils- any kind
- 3-4 medium sized onions
- 300 g of cherry tomatoes- chop them in half
- 1 L of tomato juice
- 6-7 carrots
- 300 g of pumpkin- I still have some pumpkin left if you remember the pumpkin gift I got from my boyfriend’s uncle, it was a great opportunity to use it!
- 3-4 slices of pancetta- optional
- 3-4 leaves of bay leaf
- salt, pepper and spices of your choice- I used red sweet pepper, mixture of red, white and black pepper and some pepperoncini- be careful, these are really very spicy!
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
In advance chop the onions and pancetta- if you wish to use it, fry it altogether in an iron skillet for about 10 min. Add the olive oil and add some cherry tomatoes- not more than a half. Fry all ingredients together until the tomatoes are tender. Set aside.
In a big pot- I use a ceramic one by Emil Henry- pour some water and soak the lentils. Leave them for about 10-15 min, after that start cooking them on a medium fire. Add the bay leaves.
Chop carrots and pumpkin.
Prepare also tomato juice and cherry tomatoes.
When the lentils start getting a little bit softer add the rest of the ingredients- onions, cherry tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin and tomato juice. Season accordingly and let the lentil stew simmer on a low fire for another half an hour or so. If you have white beans- even without goose fat- add them at the very end, as they are already soft, and we don’t want to overcook them- literally 10 minutes before you switch off the stove.
Remember to stir occasionally the lentils. Also if the sauce reduces too fast add some water, and then adjust seasoning.
After approximately 40 min the lentil stew is ready. All vegetables should be soft and tender and the sauce should be thick. I can tell you that I have a little secret- this dish is much better – if this is possible-when you pour in some red wine- one glass is enough. The sauce is even thicker and creamy. Try it if you can! Enjoy 🙂