This Lentils and Sausage recipe is an Italian New Year tradition which is made using just 4 ingredients! Lentils, sausage, garlic and bay leaves.
Lentils And Sausage
We always celebrate Christmas with gammon and once the new year rolls round it's lentils and sausage that takes center stage.
In this post I am sharing two versions of our lentils and sausage recipes. One that we make not just at New Year but throughout the year for the simplicity and speed at which you can get it to the table. That's the traditional Italian new year recipe mentioned earlier that uses just 4 ingredients. The main recipe, also in the recipe card below is my flavor packed version that cooks for 40 minutes and starts with the an Italian soffritto. This is more like my Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Where Does The Tradition Come From of Lentils And Sausage?
This meal was at a time in Italy when the preservation of food was a way of life. The superstition however comes from the shape of the lentils (lentils is 'lenticchie' in Italian). The 'lenticchie' being the shape of a coin symbolizes money and prosperity. So to Italians eating lentils is a very good 'omen' because it represents money, abundance and prosperity. The pork sausage, is fat and that equals abundance.
Lentils = money and prosperity
Pork sausage = Abdundance
The sausage of choice in this traditional recipe is pork and more so what is native to the regions of Italy is meat called 'cotechino'.
New Years Eve Dinner
There are many traditions on what to eat for new years eve dinner so it really depends on what you want to try. For example, Asian culture celebrates oranges and honey for good fortunes and in Spain they celebrate with grapes. For each time the bell chimes, they eat a grape. The world is full of wonders and these are the things that make it all so interesting!
What Is The Lentils And Sausage New Years Tradition?
In the same way that lentils represent money, pork sausage represents wealth so it must be pork not beef or any other meat (unless for religioius purposes). It's the fat in the pork that represents the abundance factor.
What Is Cotechino?
Cotechino is the rind (skin) of the pork which is stuffed with pork mince and herbs and rolled to cook. Once cooked the cotechino is served with lentils. This is the tradition in Italy to celebrate the New Year and all it brings. Because we cannot find ready-made cotechino in South Africa since it's not easily available, we use pork sausage to subsitute this meal.
Although it is a ritual meal celebrated for good fortune and abundance this tasty recipe can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Why Make This Lentils and Sausage?
Minimal, basic, affordable ingredients and it's delicious!
Ingredeints For Lentils And Sausage
If I haven't said this earlier, it's easy! Don't be overwhelmed by the ingredient list, these are standard staples.
Lentils and Sausage Ingredient Notes
There are no hard and fast rules to this recipe that's why, in the recipe card below I've shared two recipes.
How To Make Lentils and Sausage
Here is a guideline to the recipe which can be found in the recipe card below.
Soffritto/Aromatics: Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Cook the soffritto for 10 minutes.
Tip: Instead of chopping all the vegetables, let the food processor do it for you. Use the pulse button to control the size.
Lentils: Add uncooked raw lentils, tomatoes and liquid. Combine.
Season: Add spices and seasoning
Simmer: Add the remaining ingredients and increase the heat to a medium simmer. Cook for 40 mintues checking in-between incase you need to add water to prevent the lentils from burning.
Cook the sausage: Add the sausages to the pan and cook them until they are browned all round. You will turn them when neccessary but give them time to brown. They should cook for rough 15 minutes. Serve with lentils. We use this cajun sausage seasoning.
More Lentil Recipes
- Soffritto Lentils with Tomato
- Lentils Rice and Potatoes
- Lentil Soup Instant Pot
- Chicken Chickpeas Lentil Curry - Protein Packed
Looking for more recipes?
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Please rate my recipe in the recipe card below if you enjoyed reading or making it! Happy New Year to you and your family!
Lentils and Sausage
Recipe 1: Aromatics For Soffrito
- 3 tbsps. olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped/minced
- pinch of salt
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 celery stalks rinsed and chopped
- 1 tbsp. butter unsalted
- 2 cups lentils
- 410 grams canned diced tomatoes
- ½ cup water into the empty tomato can and swirl
- ½ cup red wine or substitute with stock or water
- 2 litres stock or 8 to 10 cups of water
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. salt and pepper
- 1 beef cube in a cup of boiling water
- 400 grams pork sausage roughly 5 sausages, room temperature
- 1 tbsp. fat
- chopped parsley
- fresh lemon
Recipe 2 - Traditional Italian Lentils
- 2 cups lentils
- water to cover the lentils and add as needed
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves peeled and whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the aromatics: Heat the oil and cook the onions, celery, carrots and garlic for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir intermittently to avoid burning so keep the heat low if necessary. While the soffrito cooks, add the tablespoon of butter, stir it in and continue cooking until the 10 minutes is done.
- Lentils: Add all the ingredients from the lentils group and stir it all in, including the stock and the additional water from the empty tomato can. Increase the heat, bring to a decent simmer.
- Simmer: While the lentils simmer the water on the surface will create foam like scum, use a large spoon to skim the surface and discard the foam. You may have to do this twice. Place the lid on the pot and leave it to simmer for 40 minutes but check at least twice to make sure the lentils have enough water and if they need more, add.
- Remove the bay leaves and stir the lentil soup and taste for seasoning. If your lentils need more water, add a little at a time and stir it in. Serve with fresh lemon, and chopped parsley.
- Heat the pan: While the lentils cook, make the sausage by heating a skillet or other pan on low to medium heat. Higher temperatures will burn the sausage before it cooks properly on the inside.
- Add fat: Add about a tablespoon of fat (oil) into the pan while heating. Any fat even duck fat if you want. Butter, vegetable oil, olive oil for cooking etc. The fat improves flavor and texture.
- Cook the sausages: Add the sausages to the pan and cook them until they are browned all round. You will turn them when neccessary but give them time to brown. They should cook for rough 15 minutes. See notes.
- Once the sausages have rested for 5 minutes after cooking, serve with the cooked lentils, fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley.
Tradional Italian Lentils Recipe
- Cook the lentils, garlic and bay leaves in water coverings them. Add salt, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook on low to medium heat, for about 20 minutes until the garlic cloves are soft. When the garlic cloves are soft enough to be mashed, the lentils will be ready.
- Serve with extra virgin olive oil.