Preparation time: 45 minutes
Eating lentils is a New Years custom in many countries. They are especially cherished in France and Italy where they are a sure presence on the year-end table. Lentils are often served with Zampone, a stuffed pig’s trotter, and wild mushrooms. You may use a good quality savory sausage and brown mushrooms as a substitute. Bitter greens, like chicory, escarole salad are just the right partners. You can make the gratin ahead, just pop it into the oven shortly before.
- 1/2 lb (225 g) green lentils (aka Puy lentils) or brown lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 lb (450 g) cooked smoked sausage, like kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 lb (225 g) onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium-size garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 lb (340 g) brown mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 3 cups (750 ml) of chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup (60 g) finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup (60 g) Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook it for about 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Transfer sausage to a plate lined with paper towels.
Add onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf to the same saucepan and cook it for 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add lentils and sausage to the onion mix. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a quick boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan and saute mushrooms for 10 minutes. Stir mushrooms into lentil mixture. Remove bay leaf and discard. Allow mixture to cool slightly. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour lentil-mushrooms mix into a well oiled baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
Combine parsley, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the lentil mixture. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Place on middle rack and bake it for 25 minutes or until lentils are bubbly and top is crispy brown. Just before serving drizzle some extra olive oil on top. Serve with a bitter greens salad.