I am so lucky. One of my dearest friends is Italian and grew up in a home with a slew of traditions. Consequently, visiting her home on a holiday is like a visit to Italy.
On New Year’s Day the Italian tradition is to eat lentils and sausages, or “Salsiccia e Lenticchie.” The lowly lentil is shaped like a Roman coin and is said to bring money and good fortune. The sausage represents the riches and “fat” of the land.
Here is my adaptation where I’ve added sauteed collard greens for health and prosperity. Buona Fortuna!
New Year’s Lucky Lentils and Sausages
1 cup dried lentils- rinsed, soaked 20 minutes and drained
4-6 links Italian sweet sausages
5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 carrots diced - about 1 cup
1 medium onion diced- about 1 cup
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1 bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 bunch collard greens, center stalk removed, cut in strips - about 2 cups
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish and juice of half a fresh lemon
Heat a soup pot and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the whole sausages on all sides without piercing. They will not be fully cooked. Remove and set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil then add the onions, stir and cook until translucent-- about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, oregano, bay leaf and cumin and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in the drained lentils and possibly an additional tablespoon of olive if it looks dry. You may add about a half cup of wine at this point followed by the chicken stock. Cook gently on low heat for about 20-30 minutes, until lentils are soft but maintain their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces and “julienne” the collard greens into strips. Heat a skillet and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Lay the sliced sausages cut side down to finish cooking. Add the collard greens and toss for about a minute or two. Ladle into bowls and top with the sausage slices, collard greens and chopped parsley. Squeeze a little fresh lemon on top and serve.
Happy New Year!
Susan Silverberg spends her days at the Los Angeles Times food section test kitchen testing recipes for readers and blogs at www.thehomeartist.wordpress.com