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Posted on Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Happy New Year Italian sausage and lentils

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

There are many traditions around the world for welcoming the new year.

In the South, Hoppin' John — a dish of black-eyed peas — is thought to bring good luck. In Japan, long soba noodles are served with wishes for a long life; one is supposed to eat them without breaking or cutting them. And in Italy, hopes for good fortune come via a dish of sausage and lentils, with the small, round legumes representing plenty. The addition of carrots, which are reminiscent of coins, furthers this notion; and the pork sausage, which is rich with a fairly high fat content, offers connotations of abundance.

Fan that I am of virtually anything Italian, particularly the food, naturally I choose to serve that last option for my New Year celebration!

Fragrant and delicious — sophisticated comfort food — this is an ideal dish for ushering in good tidings for 2013, or even just for dinner on a cold winter evening.

Buon Anno! Happy New Year!

Salsiccia Italiana con Lenticchie (Italian Sausage with Lentils)

1 cup brown lentils
4-3/4 cups water
3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons pesto
1 teaspoon kosher salt
generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 19-ounce package fresh sweet Italian sausage
1 medium red onion, halved, sliced thin

In a large saucepan, combine lentils and water; bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to "low." Cook for 10 minutes, then add carrots; return to a boil, then turn heat to "low" and cook for 20 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain, then return lentils and carrots to the saucepan.

Stir together the wine, pesto, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning; pour over lentils, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat then add sausage; brown, then add onion. Turn heat down to "medium-low." Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and sausages are firm. Remove cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat until most of liquid is absorbed.

Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

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Mary Bilyeu writes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, telling about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests, meeting new friends ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — where she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related; and look for her monthly articles in the Washtenaw Jewish News. "Like" her on Facebook, or send a tweet on Twitter, too.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.