Sausages with Lentils and Feta


We have recently taken to meal planning, which sounds dull as dishwater, but is actually working out very well. My little rule for each week is that one dinner recipe should come from my delicious backlog (or the internet) and another should come from one of my recipe books.

Even though I have a reasonable amount of cooking time available to me, it is always less than I expect so I keep a beady eye out for quick recipes. This one, for sausages and lentils, from taste, certainly fitted the bill. And we even had Puy lentils that probably needed using up. Of course, the taste recipe was a guide and what I actually did follows.

I’ll definitely be making a variation of this recipe again but when I do, I’ll throw a few vegetables (carrots, celery, for example) in the with lentils – it saves having to bother doing vegetables on the side.

For 2 people (with leftovers for the baby) I used 150g of Puy lentils which I cooked in advance in some beef stock. I recommend this – it adds great depth of flavour to the lentils. Puy lentils cook more quickly than the lentils you’d use in a dahl. Don’t cook them to a mush – you want them to retain their shape and some bite.

When we started to think about dinner, I grilled six Italian style sausages (that’s how many came in the pack – you’re unlikely to need them all but a cold sausage never goes astray).

I sautéed a finely chopped leek with a couple of cloves of garlic and then mixed that into the lentils (for reheating purposes they were on a low heat). I then fried up a couple of rashers of bacon (chopped) and added them to the lentils. I finished the lentils by adding a very generous teaspoon (or two!) or wholegrain mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar.

The recipe calls for dressing the plate with marinated feta. Seriously – have you seen how expensive marinated feta is? I made some of my own: buy some Australian feta from the deli counter in your supermarket. Chop it up and put it in a container with some extra virgin olive oil (naturally, also Australian) and add herbs and spices of your choosing. I used some dried oregano, some chilli flakes, some crushed juniper berries and some black peppercorns.

I only made the feta a day in advance so it hadn’t had too much of a chance to absorb flavours and rather than decorating the plate with it, I stirred it through the hot lentils. It gave the lentils a lovely creaminess and also added some much needed salt. Perhaps not as pretty as the picture you see on taste, but certainly tasty.

Serve the lentils in hot bowls, top with chopped sausage and some extra vegetables. Quick and healthy. Oh – if you want to be really healthy, swap the sausage for something leaner, perhaps a grilled chicken breast or lamb chop.

A quick storecupboard meal that’s also healthy. Marvellous.

Dahl Makhani

dahl makhni

I love lentils.  I don’t understand how people can NOT like them:  they’re versatile, tasty, cheap and extremely good for you.  I get really cross when I hear people say how difficult it is to feed a family proper food cheaply because they’re clearly not making enough, creative use of lentils.

That said, this recipe is the antithesis of all of the above. It makes use of black lentils which can be a little tricky to track down, it contains a ton of cream and butter, making it neither healthy nor particularly cheap. But it tastes amazing. I was first introduced to this type of dahl by the excellent Shabab restaurant in Leeds. The restaurant was across the road from Andy’s flat so I ordered more than my fair share of dahl makhani both as takeaway and in house. It was pretty much all I ate there (paired with a naan bread and a pint of Cobra).

My recipe comes from the excellent Curry. It’s not identical to that produced by Shabab but it’s close and it tastes excellent. As with Shabab’s, it’s best served with a naan bread and the lager of your choice. That does for supper for a greedy couple, but you can always serve as part of a larger meal.

NOTE: you do need to start this day before!

Take 250g of black lentils (urad) and soak them in lukewarm water overnight (we bought ours from the New India Market on South Road at Darlington).

Drain and rinse the lentils, and in a saucepan cover them with about 1½ litres of fresh water. Bring them to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour. Keep an eye on the lentils – they’ll need a stir and you don’t want to over cook them and turn them into a mush.

Once the lentils are cooked, add 1tsp each of garlic and ginger pastes, 1½ tsp of salt (don’t leave this out – lentils without salt is just wrong!), and red chilli powder to taste (about 2 tsp gives the finished product some good heat). Simmer for a little longer and then add 2 tbsp of tomato paste and (wait for it) 150g of lightly salted butter (if you use unsalted you’ll just need to add more salt when you adjust the seasoning).

Stir in the butter and keep stirring until the lentils become thick and creamy. If you wander off now you’ll likely end up with a split mix and I doubt very much you want to eat lentils with a slick of melted butter floating on top …

Finish by stirring in 1 tsp of garam masala, a generous pinch of ground fenugreek leaves (methi) – if you have them (we almost never do) and finish with 4 tbsp of cream (get pure cream, don’t use anything with a thickener in it). Check the seasoning and serve immediately.

This does reheat well (making it perfect for work lunch the next day). I’ve never tried freezing it but both the cream and the quantity of butter make me feel that that might not be such a great idea. And to be honest, we’ve never had any problems polishing this off!