Braised sausages and lentils are classic French comfort food, and by streamlining the recipe, we bring it out of the countryside and squarely into the weeknight rotation.
Many traditional recipes make a fuss out of an otherwise simple meal, often boiling the lentils and sausages separately, then assembling them together for a final bake. Instead, in this recipe from our book "Cook What You Have," which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals, we buck tradition and use one skillet, start to finish.
We use Italian sausages because they come already seasoned with spices, and you can decide on hot or sweet depending on your heat tolerance. After browning them, we take advantage of the flavorful fond in the pan to infuse lentils with flavor.
Dark-green French lentils du Puy take a bit more time to soften compared to other varieties of lentils, but they're worth a few extra minutes of simmering since they hold their shape beautifully when fully cooked. Even then, the meal only requires about 20 minutes of active work.
A quick relish of capers, parsley and lemon zest and juice adds a welcome pop of tangy, herbal and citrusy flavor. A small amount does wonders to balance the rich sausage and earthy lentils.
BRAISED SAUSAGES AND LENTILS WITH PARSLEY-CAPER RELISH
Start to finish: 55 minutes (20 minutes active)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound sweet OR hot Italian sausages
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small red OR yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
To the fat in the skillet, add the carrots, onion, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, lentils and 2 cups water, then bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover, reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes (the lentils will be only partially cooked).
Place the sausages on the lentils, re-cover and cook until the lentils are tender and the sausages reach 160°F, 23-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Stir in the parsley and capers; set aside until ready to serve.
When the lentils and sausages are done, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the sausages to a cutting board and cut them on the diagonal into pieces of the desired size. Taste the lentils and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish. Place the sausages on top. Serve with the parsley-caper relish on the side.