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.

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eggs in purgatory

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • ¼ teaspoon very lazy chili
  • 1 x 400 grams can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg (or 2 eggs if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons grated parmesan
  • 2 slices bread 

Heat the olive oil in a small pan, then add the finely chopped onion and fry it over a low heat until translucent. This should take about 10 minutes.  Add the chili and garlic and stir in, cooking for a further minute.

Tip in the tin of tomatoes and stir in the salt, and let it come to the boil. Crack in the eggs and grate a little parmesan over the top. Let it bubble for 5 minutes so that the whites are set and the yolk still runny.

Remove from the heat, taste and add black pepper or a bit of chili powder if it’s not spicy enough,  and serve with some really nice bread – toasted soda farls or Vogel’s barley & sunflower loaf are favourites.

NB it is possible to make this without onion and the parmesan, but I think it doesn’t taste quite as punchy without.

This serves 2, but can easily be scaled up.

Caponata

  • olive oil
  • 2 large purple aubergines, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a small bunch of chives or coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • a handful of pitted olives, green or black, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons best-quality herb or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tin of chopped plum tomatoes
  • optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted

Serves 4

In a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your aubergine chunks and oregano, season with a little salt, and toss around so the aubergine is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the aubergine in batches.)

When the aubergines are nice and golden on each side, add the onion and garlic, and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it’s getting too dry.

Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender. In the meantime, toast the almonds or pine nuts lightly in a dry frying pan until they are slightly coloured but not burned.

Taste the caponata before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped chives or coriander and the toasted almonds or pine nuts.

This works as a lovely side vegetable when hot, as part of a picnic when at room temperature, or with a salad when cold. You can also use it as a pasta sauce if there are any leftovers, although that’s really not a traditional use for it!