Dinner parties, Sunday dinner, or a romantic dinner for 2 (February 14th is coming pretty soon), we all love new ideas for delicious, satisfying and shall we say, sexy meals. Our good friend Peter Ciuffa, or 'Pasta Boy Peter' as he is affectionately called, created this wonderfully satisfying rustic Italian meal, complete with easy to execute menu additions to make your dinner table complete. Enjoy this wonderfully authentic dish created using our GRAIN French lentils.
From Peter: "I cook like a Nonna (Grandmother in Italian) so I will guide you through this recipe but feel free to play and enjoy the process of cooking. As crazy as it sounds this style of traditional cooking is how I ended up cooking at Savio Volpe, named one of Enroute's Ten New Restaurants in Canada, under Chef/Owner Mark Perrier. Have fun!"
Salsicce con Lenticchie Lorenzo "aka Sausage and Lentils Lorenzo, after my Pop":
1 cup of GRAIN French lentils
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 whole clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
1 jar of Tomato Passata
1 cup of parsley, finely chopped (divided use)
4 links of mild Italian sausage (vegan substitutes will work well too)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
cracked black pepper to taste
white wine vinegar to taste
Heat a large sautée pan on medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add a pinch of salt. Add the 4 links of sausage and allow to brown, turning so each side becomes browned and there is a nice sticky patch of caramelized goodness on the bottom of the pan.
While the sausage cooks, boil 3 cups of water in a separate pot with the garlic clove and bay leaf. Add 1 cup of GRAIN French lentils to the boiling water. Set a timer for 10 minutes to check your lentils at that point. You want them to be almost cooked (think of it like pasta, you want them cooked but firm. "Al Dente!") When you think they’re almost there, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat. This will allow the lentils to continue cooking without over cooking - you don't want the lentils to become mushy. Taste again after five minutes and if they need another minute return them to the heat and cook for the last minute.
When the lentils are cooked, drain them and lay them on a tray tossing them with olive oil and salt. This keeps the lentils from sticking, seasons them, and prevents them from overcooking.
Once the sausages are browned on all sides, remove them from the pan and add to a plate. If there is a lot of fat keep 2 tbsp in the pan and drain off the rest. Return the pan to the heat, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
Add the diced veggies and garlic to the sausage pan. Coat them in the fat and scrape up all those tasty brown bits from the bottom. Add a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Cook your veggies, or 'Soffritto' in Italian, until they start to sweat and become translucent. When they just start to go brown, add your jar of Passatta. Simmer the sauce, stirring every few minutes so it does not stick.
Slice the cooked sausages into bite size pieces. As soon as your sauce begins to bubble, add the sliced sausages into the sauce and stir, adding cracked black pepper to taste. Cook a further 15 minutes, stirring here and there.
While the lentils cook, combine 2 finely minced garlic cloves with 1/4 cup chopped parsley in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper and stir. Add 6 tbsp each of white wine vinegar and olive oil. Mix everything until well combined.
To complete the lentils, add to the sauce (which should be reduced by half) the cooked and cooled lentils, ½ cup of chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar. Stir together and simmer a further five minutes.
Serve the lentils and sausage in shallow bowls topped with extra chopped parsley, olive oil, and drizzled with Salsa Verde.
Serve this meal with a simple cabbage salad, fresh sourdough bread, and a good bottle of Italian wine like Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Chianti or Aglianico. For dessert, serve a gelato or gourmet ice cream, topped with stewed seasonal fruit. Most importantly, as Peter always says, "eat with those you love."
You may not have an Italian Mamma, but now you can learn to cook like one! Professional Cook, Artisan Pasta Maker & sometime Actor PastaBoyPeter Ciuffa brings his Italian recipes, classes and stories to you and your loved ones. Get info on his classes here and follow his journey from Actor to Cook on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook. #eatwiththoseyoulove