Sausages with lentils

First discovered in Delia Smith’s excellent book “Frugal Food”, but edited to save a bit of cooking time, cut down on the number of pans used, and to make more sauce!  Serves 4, but it’s worth doubling up the quantities and freezing half, as it’s a very useful thing to have in reserve for a quick tea.

  • 500g sausages (about 2 sausages per person)
  • 175g green or Puy lentils
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • salt and black pepper

Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with 1 litre of cold water. Bring them to simmering point and let them cook gently for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the sausages in a separate deep lidded casserole pan  in the oil until they are coloured (this will be the pan that everything gets bunged into at the end).  If you are using veggie sausages, you might need a bit more oil as they don’t have the fat content of the meaty ones.  Take the sausages out, drain the fat back into the big pan, and add the onions and garlic and let them soften over a low-ish heat for about 10 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme and bayleaf, plus some fresh ground black pepper, and add the sausages back into the tomato mixture.  Simmer it all gently without a lid until it reduces a bit.  Your lentils should be cooked by now, so drain them (keep the cooking liquid) and add them to the big pan. Stir it all together and let it simmer again, this time with the lid on,  for another 20 minutes or so. If it looks a bit dry, add some of the lentil cooking liquid.  Taste and add pepper and salt if necessary before serving. If you want to bulk it out you can serve it with something carb-y to mop up the juices – couscous or mashed potato are my favourites, but pasta or polenta would work too.