Lenticchie in umido

Lenticchie in umido is an Italian dish made from lentils that are slowly cooked in a flavoursome sauce. It is often prepared with Salsiccia or Cotechino, two types of Italian sausage.

In Italy, there is a tradition of eating “lenticchie in umido” on New Year’s Eve. This is said to bring luck and prosperity at the start of the new year, as the small, round lentils symbolise coins and therefore wealth. Adding Salsiccia or Cotechino increases the “wealth” of the dish.

Salsiccia is a raw sausage made from pork and is widely available outside Italy. Cotechino is traditionally made from pork and pork skin and has a coarser texture. This type of sausage is less widespread.

One thing is certain: this dish can easily be prepared vegetarian or vegan and tastes delicious in all its variations, whether as a main course or as an accompaniment to other dishes.

You need brown lentils, which only need to be washed and not soaked. For the typical Italian soffritto, the Italian version of the French mirepoix, finely dice onion, carrot and celery. Chopped garlic, rosemary and sage add flavour. You will also need strained tomatoes.

Today we also use Salsicce, remove the skin from one sausage and tear the sausage meat into small pieces. We pierce the remaining sausages several times all round with the tip of a knife and then cut them into thicker slices. Piercing the sausages prevents the skin around these slices from shrinking too much during cooking. Then the sausage slices are fried briefly on both sides in olive oil until they have taken on some colour.

Then the fried sausage is set aside

The finely diced vegetables are now sautéed over a medium-high heat; they should not take on any colour. If you are cooking with Salsiccia, add the chopped sausage meat at this point. After about 3 minutes, add the chopped garlic as well as the chopped rosemary and sage leaves, stir well and sauté for a further 3 minutes.

Now the lentils, strained tomatoes and water or vegetable stock follow. If you have vegetable stock on hand, use it, as it will add more flavour to the final dish. We like to replace a quarter of the stock (or water) with dry white wine at this point. Add the bay leaves, mix everything well and simmer gently over a medium heat with the lid on for 30 minutes.

Then the fried slices of Salsicce are added back to the casserole and the whole thing is cooked for a further 15 minutes – or until the lentils are soft. This means they cook for around 45 minutes in total. However, such times can always vary with natural products, so check the state of affairs occasionally. If the dish seems too dry, you can always top it up with a little stock or water.

Now season with salt and pepper to taste and the simple but delicious Italian lentil dish is ready. For those who like it, here you find a similar dish from Germany.

Enjoy.

And may the taste be with you.

Ingredients (for 4 people as a main course):

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 carrot

1 stalk of celery

1 clove of garlic

400 g brown lentils

2 bay leaves

200 g strained tomatoes

1 sprig of rosemary and 1 sprig of sage, the leaves roughly chopped

Optional: 3 – 4 Salsiccie (or 1 Cotechino)

Salt and pepper

800 ml vegetable stock or water (tip: replace 200 ml with white wine)

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