Spicy Italian Sausage combined with prepared lentils, tomatoes, and warm, comforting, familiar seasonings. This is an easy meal that satisfies the toughest critic. A perfect weeknight meal!
It can be argued that sausages are not the best thing one can eat. Simultaneously, there’s arguments that suggest sausages are good for you. In an age of ‘fake news,’ who the hell knows what’s good or bad anymore!?
We all know that sausages consist of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing, with other ingredients. These ingredients may or may not include fillers such as breadcrumbs, but will certainly include seasonings and flavourings such as spices, and herbs. The meat may be from any animal, but is often pork, beef, or veal. And this is where the content of sausage gets interesting. There’s a meat to fat ratio which can vary greatly from one manufacturer to another. In most cases, the fat content makes up 25% of the sausage meat.
That percentage might seem on the high side, but some health and nutrition professionals claim that animal fat is good for us. As a lover of sausages, I’m not about to disagree. In fact, I found an article published by Men’s Health that suggested a few very interesting things when it comes to sausage consumption.
First, a sausage can contain up to 11 grams of protein. Secondly, even though processed pork products are full of fat, luckily, it’s the good kind of fat. Over half of the fat in processed pork products is monounsaturated, which helps to reduce your blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. Thirdly, consuming pork sausages can keep you from getting sick. Processed pork is full of selenium which is an essential key component of a healthy thyroid gland, as well as a strong immune system. Lastly, sausages contain over 40% niacin, which is vital for healthy skin, hair and eyes. Now, that in itself, is a good enough reason for me!
And if none of those things influence whether or not you eat sausages, maybe this particular recipe will! The sausages in this recipe were pan fried until browned on all sides and then slowly braised in lentils and tomatoes. Doesn’t it look super inviting?
This is certainly a dish you’ll want to prepare on a cold, damp weeknight. It’s certainly home style cooking that invokes feelings of warmth and coziness. Wait… am I the only one who associates food with feelings such as coziness and warmth? I’m sure we’ve all heard before that food has the power to bring people together and can turn any special occasion into a spectacular occasion. Well, in my world, food does more than that.
For me, food like a spicy Italian sausage makes me feel relaxed and comforted. It makes me think of cold, wintry, blustery nights when the lights flickered from the raging snow storm outside. Wind howled around us, blowing in every direction, making it nearly impossible to see the homes of our neighbours across the street.
It makes me think of a simple family dinner where conversation wasn’t too serious and circled around the events of the day or something in the near future that we were all looking forward to.
It makes me think of completing homework assignments in old-fashioned scribblers with pencils that had a worn down eraser – and smelling mom’s home cooked dinners simmering away on the stove.
It makes me think of the furnishings of my childhood home – the old chrome table set with a green leafy pattern, the larger-than-life record player that took up as much room as a small couch, and decorations consisting of mom’s crocheted cushions and doilies and afghans, wool socks and mittens, and loudly printed colourful wallpaper.
It makes me think of the smell and sounds of a wood-burning stove; the logs cracking and snapping, flickering and smoldering, providing warmth and creating a sense of security and protection in spite of the obvious angry lashing from Mother Nature.
Yes, Dear Reader, all of those thoughts, feelings, and emotions stem from comfort foods such as this Sausage and Lentil Skillet. Food has a way of triggering memories long forgotten. And in most cases, those memories are fond and cherished; an escape from a sometimes cruel and unkind outside world.
Sausage and Lentil Skillet
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 pork sausages
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed (19 ounces)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, 28 ounces
- 1 can tomato paste, 5 ounces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and the whole sausages. Brown the sausages on both sides - about 5 minutes per side. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.
- Do not drain the oil from the pan. Add the onions and saute until golden brown, but not completely caramelized - about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir into the onions. Cook the garlic in the onions for 2 minutes.
- Next, stir in the lentils, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
- Add the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and chilies.
- Stir all of the ingredients together until well combined. Then, lower the heat to simmer.
- Nestle the sausages into the lentil mixture. Add a cover to the skillet and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve family style with good crusty bread and a generous sprinkling of fresh parsley.
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