Tag Archives: Lentils

The Coming of Winter and Lentil and Sausage Casserole

Winter is creeping in, making its presence known a little more each day. I have been turning more often to heartier fare, things that cook a little longer and in the process fill the house with aromas that warm the heart as the oven warms the kitchen. This dish came about for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that there were cooked lentils in the freezer.

These lentils were left from a recipe that I adapted from Cooking Light img_2902Magazine. Dubbed “A Perfect Pot of Lentils” it lived up to its name. A pound of green lentils were flavored with garlic and shallots and seasoned with thyme, tomato paste and dijon mustard. Once they simmered for 45 minutes or so,I was in possession of a lot of very tasty lentils. There was enough for a surprisingly good Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (also adapted from Cooking Light) with more than enough left to get relegated to the freezer until another inspiration dawned. That inspiration came a few days ago in the form of a hearty Lentil and Sausage Casserole.

This casserole boasted some Chicken Italian Sausage along with Crimini Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic. These elements were sautéed to expand their flavor before joining forces with the lentils.img_2898

Everything nestled cozily into the casserole along with some fresh rosemary, Italian seasoning, and a little chicken stock. Off to the oven it went, snuggly covered in foil. Half an hour later it smelled wonderful, but when its foil blanket was removed, it was sadly was very brown ( the color, not the effect). To remedy that and add another layer of flavor sliced tomatoes and Toscano Cheese were placed on top. A drizzle of olive oil and a return trip to the oven along with a brief shot under the broiler resulted in a much prettier offering.img_2911

It now looked good and smelled divine. All that was left to do was taste it and see if that too would be in the plus column. It was determined that we had a winner on all levels, always a good thing.img_2917

Lentil and Chicken Sausage Casserole
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Lentil and Chicken Sausage Casserole
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the lentils in the dish and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the sausage into 1/2" coins. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add the sausage slices and cook until lightly browned on one side, 3 - 4 minutes.
  3. Turn the sausage and cook another 3 - 4 minutes. When the second side is browned, remove the sausage from the pan add to the lentils in the casserole.
  4. Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or so stirring often. Add some of the chicken stock if things seem dry.
  5. Once the veggies are soft and fragrant, add them along with any drippings to the casserole. Add the rosemary and Italian seasoning.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until things are bubbly.
  7. Layer the tomato slices on top of the casserole. Sprinkle with the cheese and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
  8. Return to the oven uncovered and bake another few minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften and the cheese melts.
  9. Turn the oven to broil and let the casserole go 3 - 4 minutes until it is golden. Remove from the oven and let set 10 minutes before serving.
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All of these recipes have instilled a significant dose of “Lentil Love” in my soul. As winter continues to arrive, these protein and fiber rich little pulses (I learned that nifty term from the same Cooking Light article) will be making more appearances in Mama D’s Kitchen. Besides being nutritionally amazing, they are cheap, which leaves more money in the budget for Christmas Shopping…which is one more reason to give lentils and all their wonderful pulse cousins a try.

Ham Broth, Lentils, and Friends, Oh My!

Our recent trip to California was a time for us to revisit our one time home. The Bay Area is a wealth of beauty; ocean, mountains, vineyards, and redwood forests. We experienced it all, but the real reason we were there was to spend time with our friends. We became friends through involvement with our children’s school and sports activities. Now the kids are all grown and PTA is a distant memory, but the friendships continue.thew girls-cary Our friends Barbara and Bill graciously put us up for our visit. Besides giving us a lovely room with an on-suite and access to the deck, They shared their kitchen and recipes with us.1975125_837475866267752_138434878420943405_n Barbara made egg scrambles and smoothies for breakfast using greens and herbs  from her garden and Lemon Drop Martinis with fresh Meyer Lemons from her tree (not to worry, said martinis were enjoyed in the evening,) While we never had ham, we talked about it and how we used the ham bone. I’ve been somewhat of a traditionalist, making one bean soup or another. Barbara, the native Californian made Ham Broth. She used the broth to cook greens and other vegetables as well as to make soups. How much healthier is that? Instead of letting all the ham fat that lingers on the bone cook into the beans and other soup ingredients, the ham bone is simmered alone with a few aromatics much like a chicken carcass. The result is a rich and flavorful stock that once skimmed is an almost fat-free cooking base. 

Easter dinner left me with among other things, a lovely ham bone. I had celery in my veggie stock bag in the freezer and of course carrots, onions, and garlic. The red pepper flakes were to counterbalance the innate sweetness of the ham.DIGITAL CAMERA   DIGITAL CAMERAI sweat the veggies in a soup pot that I sprayed with non-stick spray. They started to get happy and I added the ham bone. then about 2 quarts of water (enough to cover everything.) I brought it to a boil reduced the heat to simmer and let it simmer DIGITAL CAMERAcovered for an hour and a half or so. I strained it and put it in the frig for 24 hours. When I returned the fat was a semi solid mass floating on top of the stock. It was easily dispatched with patience and a spatula. The stock that remained was a little like liquid ham; sweet, smokey, and salty (but in a good way). I had 5 cups of this golden jewel.DIGITAL CAMERAWhat to do with my new-found treasure? Lentils came to mind. I often make lentil soup with a ham bone. Why not take a lighter approach and cook the lentils in the ham stock? Needless to say, no extra seasoning was needed, the ham stock made it “just right.” Cooked lentils are quite versatile. DIGITAL CAMERAThey can be a side dish as is, but lentils make a wonderfully hearty yet healthy salad. I cooked the lentils “al dente” for the salad. The firmer texture was a nice counter-point to the crunchy vegetables. DIGITAL CAMERAA simple lemon and balsamic dressing gave just the right amount of tang. This made two perfect lunch size servings.  I froze the rest of the Ham Stock until my next inspiration arrives.

Lentil Salad
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This is a great way to use cooked lentils. It makes a light and healthy main dish salad.
Servings
2
Servings
2
Lentil Salad
Print Recipe
This is a great way to use cooked lentils. It makes a light and healthy main dish salad.
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put rinsed lentils and stock in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove lid and lower heat to simmer and cook stirring occasionally until stock is absorbed. The lentils should be al dente. Drain any remaining broth once they are cooked to this point. Cool.
  2. Combine the onions, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, and string cheese with the cooled lentils in a large bowl.
  3. Put the lemon juice, garlic, balsamic, pepper, and olive oil in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until well blended.
  4. Pour the dressing over the lentils and vegetables and toss to combine. cover and chill for several hours. Serve
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gary & jeffThanks again Barbara, for giving me this great idea. While the “thank you wagon” has pulled up…. Jan, thanks for the warmestbill & jeff barbecue we’ve been to in your back yard. Tony, thank you for the Zinfandel Port, we think of you when we drink it. Karen and Jim, thanks for always being able to pick up where we left off. Cary and Matt, thanks for your amazing senses of humor and for navigating our plane reservations. Karen, thank you for a Brunch fit for the Easter Bunny himself. the guys - billYou are the best friends anyone could ask for.

Love Mama D