I love cooking with dry beans. Legumes are a very inexpensive source of protein and I keep a stack of them in my pantry year round. Although I probably don’t cook them as often as I should, essentially because I know I can never make them as good as my mom. She used to make a pot of beans almost every weekend when we were kids, it would last well into the week. Last time she visited me I’d come home for lunch and she had made a pot of lentils or split peas and would serve me a very hot plate of it with white rice. Then we’d sit in my kitchen bar and she’d tell me stories about all the things I’ve missed in the last few years. Which brings me back to my original thought here, maybe I don’t cook them as often because they make me miss my mother much more. I am certainly very grateful for technology because I talk to my mom via text every day, but those moments sitting in the kitchen savoring her food while listening to her stories can’t make their way through wires and satellites.
This recipe inspired by those moments is full of flavor. Lentils cook rather quickly, compare to other beans. I chop my vegies while the lentils cook and bake the sausage in the oven; this way I can have dinner served in about 45 minutes. To add flavor to the lentils while they are cooking I stick a couple of cloves in half onion. I don’t add salt to the water, I prefer to season after I add them to the vegetables. A seeded jalapeño gives it a little kick but not really spicy. The Spanish chorizo I normally find sometimes is hot on its own, so I prefer to keep the lentils mild. I like the crunch of the peppers so I add them almost at the end. Make a double batch of this Lentils with Spanish Chorizo recipe and freeze half. You’ll be happy to thaw and reheat for a quick meal during the week. Let’s get cooking!
4 Spanish chorizo sausages
2 cups dry green lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled, 2 finely minced
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 celery rib, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 sweet peppers, seeded and diced (you can substitute for 1 red bell pepper)
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped parsley for garnishing, optional
Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the Spanish chorizo in a rimmed baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Stick 2 cloves in a half onion. In a medium sauce pan, combine the rinsed lentils with spiced half onion, whole garlic clove, and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover the lentils by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the lentils are al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain; discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Reserve the cooking water.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over moderate high heat. Finely chop the remaining onion half, add it to the skillet along with the chopped garlic and diced celery, season with Kosher salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the diced carrot and potatoes, season with salt and cook, stirring frequently until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and paprika, cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the reserved cooking water (should be about 1 and 1/2 cup, if there is not enough cooking liquid from the lentils just add more water). Cover and let simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the lentils, diced peppers, jalapeño and tomato paste. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are heated through and the tomato paste dissolves. Serve topped with sliced Spanish chorizo. Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy!