Thursday, July 02, 2009

July 2, 2009: Red wine lentils on polenta

Once we'd tried the giveaway-winning soup I decided to start trialling entries from the top with Elizabeth Bennet's red wine lentils. Not only are they winter-appropriate, but she explained that they're especially fitting for the shift from June to July: "Italians eat lentils and sausages (or cotechino) on New Year's Eve to bring luck and money in the coming year. Since it's nearing the end of the Financial Year, why not try it to ensure riches come tax refund time?"

Liz didn't leave a precisely measured recipe so I'm not sure how close this rendition is to hers. I couldn't track down fresh sage and crushed up some dry leaves instead, and this seemed to work out fine. Though I think Liz meant for us to plonk several sausages on top of the lentils, we were down to our last two home-made sausages in the freezer so I chopped them up and stirred them into the saucy lentils. And as for the sauce itself, it was lovely though I'd be tempted to reduce the volume of stock next time. Regardless, it soaks gorgeously into the cheesy polenta.

Red wine lentils on polenta
(based on directions from Elizabeth Bennet)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2-3 sticks of celery
2 x 400g cans lentils, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups 'beef' stock (I'll use less next time)
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crushed
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
2 large vege sausages
1L water
1 cup polenta
3/4 cup parmesan, grated

Bring the oil to medium heat in a frypan, then saute the onion and garlic in it for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute for a further 5 minutes. Stir through the lentils, wine, stock and herbs and simmer the lot until the lentils are tender and the sauce has reduced a little.

Pop the sausages under the grill, turning them once or twice, until they're crisp on the outside but still tender in the middle. Slice them into generous chunks and add them to the simmering lentils.

Bring the litre of water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta, ensuring there are no lumps. Reduce the heat and continue whisking the polenta for 10 minutes. Remove the polenta from the heat, stir through the parmesan and allow the polenta to stand for 5 minutes.

Season the lentils and polenta to taste. Scoop polenta mounds onto plates and top them with the red wine lentils, garnishing with a few extra parsley leaves.


  1. Hurrah! I'm glad you liked it. I think there are as many versions of lenticchie e salsiccie as there are Italians - the one I was taught to make in Milano is totally different to the one I'd made previously.

    FYI, I got the version I make from a book by Ursula Ferrigno's Complete Italian Cooking Course (, a book I can't recommend highly enough.

  2. yum - I was thinking of making polenta mush with sausages tomorrow night - maybe I will add some lentils too - I highly recommend trying making polenta in the microwave if you hate stirring it like I do

  3. Great, Liz - another version won't hurt, then. :-)

    Thanks for the tip, Johanna! I found the polenta stirring a little stressful when I had the grill and another saucepan also on the go.

  4. I made a new type of lentils-and-sausages today, which involved roasting some capsicum, tomatoes and onion, puree-ing them, crisping up some chorizo (or soyrizo for the vegetarians), putting it all in a saucepan together with some tomato passata, some chopped up potato, a tin of lentils and a bit of garlic, and letting it simmer til the lentils are cooked.


  5. Liz, I love sauces of blended roast capsicum (though I don't make them often). That sounds delicious!