It’s starting to get chilly here in the Italian mountains. The stone walls of the house cool right down overnight, which means the morning is spent stoking the fire to keep us warm.
The cooler weather is the perfect opportunity for some classic Italian cooking, and what could be better than a big, heartwarming dish of Italian Sausages and Lentils?
About this Recipe
This sausage and lentil recipe is classic Italian country-style cooking. Coarse pork sausage is browned in olive oil and butter, then added to deliciously earthy lentils and herbs for a warming, comforting meal.
Bonus: This lentil stew is packed with flavour and super frugal too, so it’s very easy on the wallet!
It’s an Italian tradition that lentils or lenticche bring good fortune, so much so that variations of this dish are eaten all across the country on New Year’s Eve to bring luck for the coming year.
This tradition has been going on since Roman times, so it is very much a part of Italian culture! (Don’t just save it for New Year’s Eve; it’s good all year round!)
To make my Italian Sausages with Lentils recipe, you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Sausages: For a dish like this, you must use the thickest, coarsely ground pork sausages you can find. The flavour of the sausages is important to the whole dish, so bready breakfast sausages are a no-go. If you want to use sweet or spicy Italian sausage, that’s up to you. Just be sure to get some good-quality meat.
- Lentils: I use standard green lentils in this dish, but you can use French green lentils, puy lentils or brown lentils. Red lentils are unsuitable as they don’t keep their shape during cooking.
- Carrot, celery, onion and garlic cloves: These fresh veggies form the backbone of classic Italian cooking and add a pop of colour to the dish.
- Fresh herbs and spices: I like to load stews and casseroles with herbs, but you can be flexible here. Thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds and fresh bay leaves (if you can get them) add so much flavor to the final dish. You can use dried Italian seasoning if you can’t get fresh herbs or are on a budget.
- White wine and chicken stock or chicken broth: These cooking liquids combine to flavour the lentils in the most delicious way. If you don’t drink alcohol, replace it with a little watered-down orange juice. You can use vegetable broth or vegetable stock as well.
- Balsamic or red wine vinegar: A dash of vinegar at the end of the cooking time will brighten the whole dish and bring out all the flavours.
This is such a simple recipe; remember, low and slow is the way to go. These lentils and sausages can cheerfully putter away on the stove for an hour or more, filling the house with a delicious aroma.
As long as you keep an eye on the water level, it’ll be fine. If you’re in a hurry, you can cheat and use a tin of pre-cooked lentils, but it is better from scratch (and easier on the wallet too).
- First, brown your sausages and sauté the vegetables over medium heat. You’ll need a large pot or Dutch oven with a heavy base to distribute the heat evenly.
- Next, add your aromatics and lentils, that’s the herbs, bacon and other flavourings. Give them a quick stir, then pour in the wine and stock. Then simmer until the lentils are nearly cooked, around 40 minutes, depending on which lentils you have chosen.
- Last, you can slice up the sausages (or leave them whole like in the pictures, it is up to you), add them to the pan, stir everything well, and cook for 5-10 minutes. A dash of vinegar and a sprinkle of fresh parsley, and you’re done! Buon Appetito!
PRO TIP: Add canned tomatoes to the cooking liquid if you like your lentils a little saucier. You’ll need to add a few minutes to the cooking time, but diced tomatoes will make your sauce even more delicious!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What sort of lentils should I use to make this dish?
I use small green lentils as they retain a bit of a bite when they’ve been cooked. Put lentils are also delicious.
Can I double or triple the recipe to feed more people?
Sure! Just cook the sausages in batches and be prepared to use a big pot for all those lentils.
How do I know when the lentils are done?
Lentils vary depending on age and provenance. Small green lentils need around 30-40 minutes to soften, but it’s best to keep tasting as you go along for the best results.
Can I batch-cook Italian Sausages and Lentils?
Recipes like this were made for meal-prepping before meal-prepping was even a thing! Make a big batch on the weekend and portion it up for meals during the week. Bonus: It freezes beautifully.
More Stew and Casserole Recipes!
Italian Sausages and Lentils Recipe
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil (e.g. sunflower)
- 6-8 coarsely ground pork sausages
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 stems celery, sliced
- 1 large brown or yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 100g (3.5 oz.) bacon, diced
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
- 1 stem fresh rosemary, leaves diced
- 1 bay leaf (fresh if possible)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 200g (7 oz.) green lentils
- 250ml (1 cup) white wine
- ½ chicken or vegetable stock cube (see notes)
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- small bunch of parsley, chopped
- BROWN THE SAUSAGES: Melt the butter and the oil in a large, heavy-based pot or Dutch oven. Cook the sausages gently for 5-10 minutes until well browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- SAUTÉ THE VEGETABLES: Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the bacon, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, fennel seeds and lentils to the pan and stir to combine.
- ADD THE LIQUIDS: Pour the wine and 750ml (3 cups) water into the pan, crumble in the stock cube and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender.
- ADD THE SAUSAGES: When the lentils are tender, thickly slice the sausages and add to the pan. Add the vinegar, stir well to combine and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
- SERVE: Sprinkle over the parsley and serve immediately.
If you don't want to use stock cubes, replace the stock cube and water with an equal amount of liquid stock. I'd suggest a low-sodium variety and then adding salt to suit your taste buds when the meal has cooked.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 928mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 23g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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