The last 10 days for us has been a bit of a whirlwind. We’ve been away from home for 10 days. Driving from NY to TX we saw family, a dear friend, and 10 states…. Only to return home and realize it’s almost New Year’s Eve. Wait! What? I need a dish to celebrate the New Year! Hmmmm…..What will it be???? Black eyed peas? Maybe. Then I saw The Today Show as I was leaving my hotel a couple of days ago and a woman was featuring a few delicious ways to ring in 2014 Italian Style.
Cotechino sausage with lentils. Now you have my attention!
It’s a New Year’s tradition in Italy to eat cotechino and lentils on New Year’s Day to bring good luck for the coming year- the pork and lentils represent richness and money. Cotechino is an uncooked, fatty sausage about 3 inches in diameter and most prevalent in Northern Italy. It’s pretty difficult to find in the U.S.
No worries. The woman said sweet Italian sausage was a good substitution. I decided this was my NY dish…. My version of cotechino and lentils without the cotechino :). So I guess that makes it sweet Italian sausage and lentils. I added orzo to break up the texture of the lentils. Either way. This creamy dish is inexpensive, EASY to make and does not disappoint.
- 1½ cups lentils
- 3 (14.5 oz.) cans low sodium chicken broth or 5½ cups
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut in ½ in. slices (I left the casings on, but feel free to remove them)
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¾ cup orzo pasta
- ¼ tsp. each black pepper, salt
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- Bring lentils, bay leaves and broth to a boil on high heat in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium/low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add sausage and cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Add onion, mushrooms, carrots, celery and garlic and cook 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Turn off heat.
- After the lentils have cooked 30 minutes stir in orzo, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook uncovered 10 minutes or until orzo is done. The starch from the orzo will thicken the broth.
- Stir in sausage and vegetable mixture and balsamic vinegar.