Now that many of us seem to have more time on our hands, living in this slightly surreal existence, we, like most people, are having to make do or be a bit more inventive with our food. Nipping out for a lettuce, because we have run out and fancy a salad for lunch, is not a sensible option so we're spending more time checking our cupboards to see what's lurking in there and - this part is by no means a hardship - checking my cookbooks for ideas.
It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Should I find a recipe then look to see if I have the ingredients? Or should I see what ingredients I have and look for a suitable recipe? In this case it was the former. A happy hour spent leafing through some cookbooks I don't often get out to play with turned up this recipe. It comes from a book called "One Pot Wonders" by Lindsey Bareham.
It's always satisfying when what you cook looks exactly like the picture in the book.
I had seen several bags of four Cumberland sausages lurking in my dad's freezer when I had a clear out. He used to treat himself to four each time he went to his preferred supermarket and if they didn't get eaten they were put in the freezer. He's 91 now and since he gave up driving he's also given up shopping and cooking and only eats microwavable ready meals from the local Nisa shop, or ones that we supply him with.
The unused sausages were all getting on a bit so we had taken them off his hands to make room for a stock of ready meals in preparation for the impending lockdown. Nick also remembered a pack of Puy lentils hiding at the back of a cupboard. So we had all the necessary ingredients for what promised to be a very tasty dinner.
We adjusted the quantities to serve just the two of us and cooked the sausages in the oven rather than frying them as per the recipe. We omitted the chillies as I can no longer eat chillies and added some mushrooms because they were there. You can see the original recipe here.
It was delicious and left us wondering why we don't cook with lentils more often.
1 tblsp olive oil
4 nice fat sausages (Cumberland, Lincolnshire or any you have available)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 small or 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into small dice
a few mushrooms, thickly sliced
100g Puy lentils
500ml stock made with a stock cube of your choice (beef, veg, chicken but probably not fish)
salt and pepper
some chopped parsley if you have any
a lemon wedge if you have one and Dijon mustard to serve
Preheat the oven to 180° Fan. Prick the sausages and lay on a baking tray lined with scrunched up baking paper. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until nicely browned and cooked through, turning occasionally so they brown evenly.
While the sausages are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan or sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. (By now the sausages will also be cooked.)
Cut the cooked sausages artistically in half on the slant and add to the pan with the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and reheat as necessary.
Serve with a lemon wedge and Dijon mustard.