Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also...
Five lucky recipes with lentils
Lentils… and Cotechino sausage? Not this time! Today we are going to talk about 5 ways to make lentils without Cotechino sausage. We know that lentils and Cotechino sausage make for a traditional, delicious dish, but let’s be more creative! And let’s dissociate lentils from New Year’s Eve, once and for all.
Let’s get things straight: for our recipes, we only use Lentils from Castelluccio di Norcia. Why, you ask? Well, they are the most delicious ones! They’re tiny, beautiful, colourful and have a thin skin (do you know that they are the only lentil variety that does not need to be soaked?); these tiny gems are also packed with flavours.
They are genuine, authentic and very healthy. They don’t even need to be treated with chemicals, since they are naturally tough, because they live in the cold in the Sibillini mountains at 1,500 metres above sea level.
Since we are talking about marvels, have you ever seen a blooming lentil field? Between the end of May and mid-July, the slopes are completely covered in colourful blooms and the landscape is one to leave speechless.
Lentil soup is the perfect dish to warm up in the winter. There are endless recipes: some people only add veggies, some like potatoes, too, other add cereals or even some dices of pancetta bacon.
This is my super easy recipe: sauté a mirepoix with celery, carrot and onion in a big saucepan with a dash of olive oil. If you want to add some pancetta (pork belly fat), do it now. Let it brown and then add the lentils, one diced potato and a little bit of tomato sauce.
Cook for 5 minutes and simmer with half a glass of white wine. In the meantime, you should have prepared some vegetable broth (you don’t need beef broth, believe me) that you should now pour in the saucepan. If you like a lot of broth, you can pour a copious amount so as to cover all the veggies; if you like a thicker soup, add the broth little by little, until you reach your desired consistency.
Simmer on low heat for at least 50 minutes and serve very hot with some freshly ground black pepper, a dash of olive oil and a slice of roasted, Tuscan bread which you have ideally rubbed with a garlic clove.
There are two main versions of this dish: one with a very liquid, almost broth-like sauce, and one with a dry and compact, almost beef ragout-like sauce.
I usually go for the second option and I use different kinds of pasta, but I never opt for short soup pasta or Ditalini or Tubetti noodles.
Cook the lentils from Castelluccio di Norcia with a garlic clove, a lot of rosemary, salt and pepper. Then, add halved cherry tomatoes (if they’re in season, otherwise just tomato sauce), and cook until the lentils turn soft, but not mushy. If you want a more intense flavour, add three sundried tomatoes cut into strips.
Cook the pasta and drain it a minute before the suggested cooking time and toss it in the pan with lentils. Add some pasta cooking water and you will obtain a nice creamy sauce. I personally do not like grating cheese on top of this dish, but if you want to, you can try some semi-aged Pecorino cheese instead of Parmigiano.
It is a very basic version of an Indian dish. Let’s start from the curry; as many of you probably know, curry is not a spice, but rather a mix of more than 10 different spices. You can try to make the perfect spice mix yourself, or you can just purchase some ready-to-use curry, just to be on the safe side.
Then, you should decide how spicy you want your curry to be. You can choose between mild or spicy, but be careful, because spicy in India really is hot!
As far as everything else is concerned, the recipe is very traditional. Sauté a mirepoix with garlic, onion, celery and carrot and with a dash of oil. Add the lentils and cook them, pouring in some hot vegetable broth little by little.
After roughly half an hour, add the curry powder and cook for at least 10 more minutes. The lentils shouldn’t be too dry, since they will be served along some Basmati rice that you should simply steam with one garlic clove.
Keep in mind that this is the easiest, quickest, Italian version of curry. If you wish to make the real deal, you will need some coconut milk and a little bit of patience, but the result will surely amaze you.
This is a clever dish that kids like, too. This veggie burger can be served in a bun, or it can be made with different aromatic herbs or spices, to add a little twist.
This is the basic version: cook lentils from Castelluccio di Norcia and then blend them with an egg and some bread crumb. You can add some chives, sweet or spicy paprika, red hot chilli pepper, crushed garlic or you can replace a third of the lentils with steamed potatoes.
Serve it in a sesame bun with tomatoes, salad, red onion, cucumber, slices of beetroot and a yoghurt sauce or some crumbled feta cheese. Believe me, you won’t miss the classic beef hamburger.
It is a hearty and very nutritious dish that could be a meal in itself and that you can prepare well in advance. Steam the potatoes and the lentils and steam some turnip greens by themselves; they must be drained while rinsing under cold water to maintain their bright colour.
Put together the lentils, potatoes and turnip greens and dress with a sauce like Bagna cauda made of oil, garlic and anchovies and, if you want, a pinch of red hot chilli pepper. A dash of olive oil and the dish is ready.
Lentils from Castelluccio di Norcia are a true delicacy. They are delicious, healthy, tasty and nutritious and they can be cooked in thousands of ways to make starters, pasta, meat or fish dishes and side dishes with an intense and unmistakable flavour. We have nothing against Cotechino sausage, but some creativity is allowed once in a while!