This was the first meal I cooked for my boyfriend, who has kind of strange eating habits. He absolutely loves Field Roast Veggie Sausages, but he eats them just plain. He was pleasantly surprised by how I combined spices, including smoked paprika, to rev up one of his favorite foods. If you eat meat, this is also great with a link of regular meat sausage. —Cara Eisenpress
dried black lentils
garlic cloves, 2 minced, 1 chopped roughly in thirds
veggie sausage or sausage, cut into thin half moons
Pick over the lentils for any bad ones, then rinse them in a couple changes of water. Put them in a small pot with about 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and the garlic that is roughly chopped. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are soft but not at all mushy. Drain any excess water. If you're doing this ahead of time, refrigerate the lentils; otherwise, set them aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large, cast-iron skillet. Add the sausage and let the pieces brown and crisp. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, then put in the onions, sauté a few minutes, then add the carrots and the minced garlic. When everything is soft, add the paprika, thyme, and salt, cook for a minute. Add the lentils.
Pour in the cup of red wine and bring to a simmer. When the liquid is nearly completely reduced, 5-10 minutes, add the sausage back in. Simmer another few minutes until the liquid is evaporated, taste for seasonings, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
Serve with toasted slices of fresh whole wheat bread, with simple steamed spinach or broccoli on the side.
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.