Lentils: As Winter Ends and Lent begins

The big round table central to papa’s parents’ flat in Rome changes like the seasons. Lentils appear in clay bowls with fall, and their hearty soup warms the pancia (tummy) all through winter’s cold nights. We are now cooking up our pantry’s last lentils until next fall.

The little pulses make a humble lent fare too.

I find the earthy, grainy flavor of lentils tough to balance. My mission tonight was savory lentils. This is how I proceeded:

2 fat garlic cloves smashed under a knife and sauteed in olive oil

225 g small green French lentils mixed into the oil until heated; stir to avoid stick or burn

1/2 of a large fresh tomato or scoop of canned or splash of passata mixed in until hot

add a splash of white cooking wine and cook until wine smell disappears

add 1 liter of water, a large rosemary sprig and a few cracks of black pepper

bring to a boil then gently simmer until lentils are just tender

salt generously just before lentils are cooked

let stand until warm before serving to let flavors settle

serve over polenta (recommend polenta meal to the instant one. sautee garlic in olive oil then cook according to package adding a rosemary sprig)

 grate Pecorino Romano cheese over the top.

I’m not sure this dish is chef approved, but ev especially enjoyed tonight’s winter dinner farewell!

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