Think of this as lentil soup morphed into a sauté. It’s about as easy to make too, especially since the lentils I used cooked up so fast. I’ve made this a number of times with regular run-of-the-mill brown lentils, but then I saw Bartolini’s adorable (assuming lentil beans can be considered adorable) little Umbrian Lentils, from duh, Umbria. They’re tiny, closer in size to red lentils, and cook up in about 20 – 30 minutes.
They’re great for salads, or sautés like this one because they hold their shape beautifully, and have an earthy flavor that melds well with vinegars and ingredients like the Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes I posted on Sunday. I saw them at my local neighborhood grocery store where they were showcasing legumes, and you may see them in the International Foods section of a larger grocery. But if you can’t find them, you can order them from a number of online sources. The best price I found in a quick search was at Market Hall.
There’s a little more information about these little beans I found on theKitchn site, if you’re interested.
A Few Cooking Notes:
Ras el-hanout is a spice common to Middle Eastern dishes and is a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and a few other spices. If you can’t find it, just put a cinnamon stick, along with a couple of smashed cardamom pods, in with the lentil beans as they cook. Or you can make your own spice mix.
Turf ‘n Turf: Cooking for the Vegetarian – Omnivore Table:
Sausage is a perfect meat protein with this dish. I would steer more towards a pork or lamb sausage rather than chicken, and if you like spicy sausage, medium spicy sausages would be a great foil for the lentils and tomatoes.
Slice the sausage links into 1/4″ rounds and brown them over medium-high heat in one teaspoon of olive oil. Serve along side the saute, or remove enough of the lentil sauté to serve the omnivores from the pan, and toss it with the browned sausage slices. Spoon onto a plate, top with the warm roasted tomatoes, and a sprinkle of parsley and mint leaves.
Umbrian Lentil Sauté with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 1/2 cup Umbrian lentils
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts (sliced horizontally)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ras el-hanout spice
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 to 4 Roasted Balsamic Tomato halves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cup parsley
- 1 tablespoon packed mint
- pinch of salt flakes for a finish
Bring the broth to a simmer and add the beans. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.
Heat up the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, garlic, leeks, celery and ras el-hanout and saute until the carrots are just soft (about 20 minutes).
Add the lentils to the vegetables and sauté another five minutes to allow the lentils to absorb the flavors. Add the balsamic vinegar.
Warm up the roasted balsamic tomatoes if they were make in advance.
Spoon the lentils/vegetable mixture onto a serving platter and top with the roasted tomatoes.
Mix the parsley and mint together and sprinkle on top. Finish with a pinch of salt flakes.