New Year’s Day Lentils

Lentils

In many cultures, its good luck to eat lentils, especially on New Year’s Day.  The reason is not just because they are shaped like little coins, but also because they provide nutrition.  Either way, there is nothing ever wrong with a hot steaming bowl of soup composed of good nutrients on a cold winter day.  It is a light escape from the heavy eating from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve to Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve drinking and eating.  However, in Northern Italy it is customary to cook them with large links of sausages as well.

My mother always made them, but her father (my grandfather) always made fried sausage with it.  Whether you want to fry your sausage, boil it along with the lentils or just go vegetarian all together, here is a simple, satisfying recipe.  A video on YouTube from my Ravenite Club project is online too, and embedded below.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 (1 cup) ounces dried lentils
  • 1 cup chopped or finely diced carrot, onion and celery
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of wine for deglazing
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce of finely chopped bacon or pancetta (optional)
  • Parsley for garnish and/or some for cooking

METHOD:

  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.
  • If you choose to use the bacon or pancetta, begin to fry that first until crispy.
  • Add in garlic and allow to gently brown (not burn, but just golden).
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and add vegetables,  and continue to cook until soft, about another 5-10 minutes.
  • Deglaze with wine, allow it to cook off.
  • Add broth, bay leaves, bring to a gentle boil.
  • Add lentils and cook for at least 40 minutes and/or until desired tenderness.

The lentils should not be mushy, but not hard either. You can serve them as a soup, or a bit thicker. Just be sure to adjust the salt and seasoning so that they still have some flavor if you add water to make it more like soup.