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Saturday: Sausage and Lentil Casserole

By Dotty in the Kitchen

What a grey, cold, soggy, uninspiring day we’ve woken up to this morning….

It’s a day for slippers, comfort food and candles I think. I make a pot of coffee, poach some eggs and watch Saturday Kitchen in my pjs. Before I know it, Saturday kitchen has turned into Netflix and I’ve binge watched the last three episodes of Bridergton. Oops. It’s almost getting dark again and I’m barely dressed! Slightly shamefully, I shuffle back to the bedroom and get dressed. I bundle up some laundry too, change the bedding and empty the dishwasher. Oh the riveting life of a twenty something…

Spotting a gap in the rain, I duck out for a little walk. It doesn’t last long as it’s mizzling and the ground is too slippery and wet. I trudge home, thinking about the open sandwich I’ll have when I get back, topped with cheddar cheese and some of last night’s leftover coleslaw.

I spend the rest of the afternoon pottering and tidying in the flat, I call my parents and finish my book before I mooch into the kitchen with thoughts of dinner.

Tonight it’s sausage casserole which is exactly what I need on a day like today. I love the process of a casserole – the chopping of the vegetables is so mindful, the slow bubbling of the sauce is so comforting. I lay out my ingredients…

Serves two, with lentils leftover for another main meal

Ingredients:

4 sausages

2tsp sunflower oil

2 large white onion

2 large carrot

2 celery stick (optional)

2 clove garlic

1 tbsp tomato puree

250g dried puy lentils

500ml chicken stock

Bay leaf / thyme sprig

Salt and pepper

Handful spinach (about 100g)

Tsp mustard to serve (optional)

Method:

The recipe begins, as so many do, with the chopping of an onion. I leisure over this, taking care and time to finely chop the onion, carrot and celery (I have a few stalks leftover from last week’s meal plan) into neat, even cubes, as small as the lentils. With some music on in the background and a G&T on the side, this is my happy place.

Vegetables chopped, I fish out the casserole pan from the back of the cupboard and heat up the sunflower oil over a medium heat. I cut the links of 4 sausages and drop them into the oil to fry and sizzle. The remaining 2 sausages go back into the fridge for later in the week. I watch the sausages spit and splutter as their skins turn crisp and golden. When they’re browned on each side, I remove them from the pan and turn the heat down. In go the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery. I leave them to sweat down for about 7 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Now my vegetables are starting to look translucent and glossy, some golden edges are starting to appear too. I grate in the clove of garlic and let it fry for another minute before stirring in 1 tbsp tomato puree.

I pour in the lentils. It seems like a lot of lentils – and it is – but these will be the base for a couple of salads for me for lunch and another main course for us later in the week. Stir them to coat them in the tomato flavoured veg. I pop the sausages back in and cover the whole thing with 500ml chicken stock. A bay leaf goes in and I wait patiently for the pan to come up to a gentle boil before I sandwich on the lid and turn the heat down to low. I leave it undisturbed for 20 minutes, then have a little peak to check on it. I give everything a stir and pop the lid back on to leave it for 20 minutes more. If it’s looking dry, add a bit more water.

After 40 minutes of gentle gurgling on the hob, the sausages and lentils are both tender as can be. I add the fistful of spinach and stir it through the steaming casserole until it wilts and folds gently into the sauce. I spoon the lentils and sausages on our plates and top them with a dollop of Dijon mustard. We open a bottle of red wine and enjoy our dinner.

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