Lenticchie, an Italian lentil stew

Standard

An Italian tradition is to serve Lenticche at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to bring good fortune and hope that you will not want for cash in the following year. The lentils symbolize little coins. Italian dishes tend to be seasonal, so this is an obvious choice for late fall/early winter.

My sister Cheri was a young bride when she married Mario V. in 1980. A few years later they moved to Ostia, Italy. She learned some of her Italian cooking by watching her mother-in-law, but mostly by tasting and recreating what she tasted. The first time she had Lenticchie was on New Year’s Eve at their friend’s parent’s house in Ostia. It was served at midnight, and this was when she learned about the tradition.

Traditionally, Lenticchie is made with cotechino or zampone (this American girl shivers at the thought…Google it and you may too). Being a bit squeamish, Cheri makes her’s with Hillshire Farms’ smoked sausage instead. I don’t blame her one bit! A soffrito starts as the base, and your kitchen will smell absolutely delicious while it’s cooking! Soffrito is a sautéed mixture of carrot, celery and onion, that is very common in Italian dishes. The Latin Americans, Spanish and French do this too, with little variations to the ingredients.

Cheri & Mario lived in Italy for about 2 years. They moved back stateside during my senior year of high school. What a neat adventure, to have the chance to live abroad! Anyway, Cheri introduced me to Lenticchie one evening at her home, and I now make it because it’s just so wonderful.

I took the liberty of adding garlic into her recipe, as well as rosemary. They don’t care for garlic, and Cheri will toss in whatever herbs she has on hand as a given, not needing to include it in the recipe. I always use fresh, chopped rosemary when making Lenticchie (and much of my cooking). So tasty. *Note: I don’t have a personal photo of Lenticchie yet, so I’ve used one from another blog until I next make it and photograph it (see photo credit).

LENTICCHIE

Photo from Flavor of Italy blog

Photo from Flavor of Italy blog

 ingredients:

1 (16 oz) package smoked sausage (can use beef or turkey), diced
1 bag lentils, rinsed & picked through
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled & diced
6 cups chicken stock (maybe a little more)
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. butter/margarine
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. minced garlic (or 2 cloves, finely minced)
2 Tbs. fresh, chopped rosemary (or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

In a large pot, melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Add diced carrots, celery and onion to make the soffrito. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then add in minced garlic and cook until carrots are softened.

Add sausage and about *4 cups chicken stock. Next add lentils, potatoes, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook about 45 minutes, or until lentils are soft and potatoes are cooked through. Taste to adjust salt and pepper as needed.

*Important Note: Watch the liquid levels as the lentils soak up the stock, and add more chicken stock as needed to acheive a stew consistency (not too thick, not too soupy).

(Post note: I first posted this on my work blog, but need to transfer my recipes to my personal blog. This recipe can also been seen at http://www.kitchenkraftinc.wordpress.com/, and possibly on my Blogspot blog at http://www.beth-gould-becoming-frugal.blogspot.com, as I’m trying to see which blogging format I like best.)

Girl. On a mission.

Standard

Tightwad. Cheap. Scrooge. Penny-Pincher. Prudent. Frugal.

I prefer Frugal. Being a single mom without a college education as of yet, I’ve learned how to stretch my dollars out of necessity. At the beginning, I was a young mom (left Ex when my daughter was 1 1/2 years old) and very inexperienced in the kitchen. I had my same handful of recipes to make, or I would prepare Hamburger Helper & Tuna Helper. Today, 16 1/2 years later, I’ve broadened my culinary abilities enough to be able to create tasty meals from scratch, without a recipe.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love recipes. I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe or meal idea, and belong to several online groups where I get tons of inspiration. I started blogging for work, and added some recipes there. Since that isn’t on par with what my company does (kitchen and bath design-build-remodel), my boss has decided to nix that part of the blog. The first few recipes I’m going to post here, are the ones I had posted on my work blog.

On a side note, the meals I would love to prepare are not necessarily the ones I end up serving at home. My daughter, Becca, is an extremely picky eater. When she transitioned from pureed to table food as a baby, that’s when things came to a screeching halt. It was a texture thing, and she wouldn’t touch most of the foods she had previously eaten. Being a busy struggling single mom, solo-parenting from the day I left the Ex, I chose to cater to her pickiness instead of work through it. Hind sight and all that aside, trying to change her pickiness at this late stage would be a fruitless endeavour. Becca just turned 18 a month ago. I do frequently encourage her to try a bite of something new or different, and she’s finally choosing to try a tiny pea-sized taste. Maybe she’ll grow out of her pickiness. You know I’ve got my fingers crossed!