It’s a bleak time of the year for food inspiration. How can we endure? I humbly submit lentils as my answer. But stay with me! Let’s keep cooking out of the pantry and get cozy and bubbly and aromatic with a lentil and sausage stew that'll cost you between $9.50 and $14 to make.
We’ll need lentils, sausage, vegetables and sauciness to bring the stew together. Options galore, so don’t lose heart if you’re missing ingredients, you probably have something else that will work just as well. Let’s talk through it.
Lentils! Dried lentils keep for ages—here we’re using the most common green or brown but other varieties are fine. Lentils are just as cheap as dried beans, but where beans take two to three hours to cook, lentils take about twenty minutes. Bonus.
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Sausage-wise, I used Spanish chorizo, but any kind of cured or fresh sausage is great. You can cook the sausages whole, then slice them and add them into the stew. Or, if using fresh sausage, crumble it up and cook it along with the vegetables and get a little ground meat in every bite. You could even go wild and use pepperoni for your sausage, melt mozzarella on the top, and call this pizza lentil stew.
Next we want vegetables. I had the cheap workhorse veggies—onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper—in my drawer, but if your crisper has other treasures, use ‘em. Any kind of onion or root vegetable will work so long as you chop them into small pieces and cook until soft.
Lastly, what kind of saucy something is going to bring our stew together? I added a can of chopped tomatoes for sweetness and acidity and because I love them (plus that whole ahem pizza stew thing). But you can add wine or beef broth for a more French stew, or milk or cream for a more Eastern European stew. Just be sure to add the liquid after the flour is stirred in, and let the stew simmer so it has a chance to thicken.
Lastly, if you have cheese, you will never regret melting that on top.
My lentil stew ended up kinda like a lentil jambalaya, but please share your variations below! We love hearing about your pantry swaps.
How would you riff on this recipe? Tell us in the comments below.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).