First impressions aren’t always a good thing, especially when it comes to recipes. For instance, when you first see that this recipe for Braised Lentils & Chard with Sausage takes 50 minutes to make, it may lead you to believe that there is no way this could be an easy weeknight meal. But first impressions aren’t always right!
While yes, this recipe takes a little under an hour to prepare, it is still the perfect late autumn or winter meal to make for a few reasons:
It’s like a big, gigantic, energetic hug meaning it’s comforting yet won’t make you feel like you need a nap.
It’s requires only one pot! And you know what that means: less dishes.
There’s very little hands on time so once everything goes in the pot you have time to clean up, set the table and maybe pour a little wine while it simmers away.
The leftovers taste even better! It’s a great way to live by my favorite motto of “cook one, eat twice'“ as this is a dish you’ll want to keep eating again and again.
It highlights so many of the wonderful ingredients you can find at the greenmarket this time of year including fennel and rainbow (or Swiss) chard.
Speaking of chard, I love it in this dish because it gets used in two ways. Once as the leaves which are chopped up and braised along with the lentils and secondly, the stems are chopped up and sautéed with your mirepoix (a fancy word for the flavor base created by sautéed vegetables, in this case carrots, onions, celery and fennel). By using the chard in this way it helps you reduce waste and add both color and flavor to your dish. And if you are wondering the difference between rainbow chard and Swiss chard is the color of their stems. Swiss chard has typically red stems while rainbow chard has, you guessed it, more colorful (rainbow) stems!
A few other things to know about this recipe:
Substitutions: Feel free to use whichever type of sausage you like in this recipe, although the sweet Italian sausage pairs nice with the fennel that’s included in the base. A spicy Italian sausage would work great as well!
Leftovers: This is the ultimate leftovers meals as the flavors get better as they sit. While you can certainly eat as is, try slicing up some of the sausage and adding a fried egg for a hearty breakfast perfect before a day of wintry activities.
So, now that you’ve move past the first impressions and know the real deal behind this winter beauty, I’m thinking you should try it tonight!
And one more note, almost everything I used in this meal came from my local green market, including the delicious sausage from Saw Kill Farm. If you haven’t seen on my Instagram, I’m going to be hosting some free farmer’s market meetups in the future for those of you who live in the NYC area. We’ll go over what’s in season, how to cook it and recipe inspiration. Plus hot cocoa for the really cold days! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign-up for my emails not to miss any announcements!
Braised Lentils & Chard with Sausages
Time: 50 Minutes
1 1/4 pounds sweet Italian sweet sausage (about 5-6 links)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup diced carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 medium stalks)
1 cup diced fennel bulb (about 1 medium bulb), stems, fronds and core removed
2 cups packed, roughly chopped Swiss or rainbow chard leaves, stems removed and diced
1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed, drained and picked over of any debris
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 cups beef stock or water
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the sausages in a single layer. Cook on each side until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute before adding the carrots, celery, fennel and chard stems. Stir well and cook for 5 more minutes until tenders.
3. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scrapping any bits up off the bottom. Pour in the remaining stock or water making sure the lentils are almost entirely submerged. Add the bay leaf.
4. Let the pot come to a low boil before lowering the heat to low and letting simmer with the lid off. After 15 minutes, add the chard leaves and stir to combine. If at this point the lentils still seem al dente or are no longer covered in liquid, add a little more stock or water until they are submerged. At this point, you should taste the lentils and chard and season as needed with the red chili flakes, salt and pepper.
5. Place the sausage links into the lentil mixture so that they are halfway covered. Let cook for another 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.
6. Serve with crusty bread if desired!