This is typical Italian "capodanno" fare. New Year's Eve. It's very simple if you can find the right ingredients. And in fact if you've been sitting on a cold, stone bench seat in Gualdo for a C1 match this will warm you right up. Castellucio lentils are preferred, highly prized in Italy. It calls for a bit of hot pepper, which I didn't expect to discover in Umbria but actually it's quite common. The cotechino sausage is more typical of Emilia-Romagna, but it is consumed in Umbria. But substitute another seasoned sausage if necessary. True cotechino is not permitted for import but there are very good domestic versions available on both coasts. I was in Eataly in Manhattan a few weeks ago and they carry it (although that place doesn't need more clerks, it needs docents). —pierino
What You'll Need
(450 grams) Umbrian lentils
celery rib, divided with one part chopped and set aside
extra virgin olive oil
basic tomato sauce
(small handful) hot pepper flakes, see note below.
or slightly larger cotechino, or equivalent in other fully cooked sausage
Bring sufficient salted water to boil. Enough to just cover the lentils. Add them along with the the intact part of the celery rib and one clove of garlic. Allow about 20 minutes cooking time over low heat.
Meanwhile saute the chopped celery and remaining garlic clove in the oil. Add the hot pepper (don't go nuts), and the tomato sauce and simmer.
Prick the sausage and add to the pan intact and color it a bit on all sides ("rosolare"). Add enough water to come up about a third of the way. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally.
When you are satisfied that the lentils and sausage(s) are cooked through, remove the sausage and set aside for slicing. Combine the sauce with the lentils. Serve with slices of cotechino on each plate.
Note to cook: as I said I was a little surprised to discover how common the use of hot pepper is in Umbria. I use a Roman style blend that includes not only hot pepper flakes (with seeds) but also dried garlic and parsley. You can find a similar product packaged in Umbrian markets.
Second note to cook: in Italy for "tomato sauce" they would typically use passato which is a bit thinner than our canned sauces.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.