I wrote about comfort food before. About food that has the power to heal wounds seen or unseen. About food that makes you feel good – or at least a little bit better. About food that is made to be shared. To be enjoyed with friends, with family members – and even with strangers.
But never have I wrote about food that makes you feel safe. Because I suppose I was lucky enough and haven’t felt unsafe before. Or at least not for such prolonged periods of time. The Covid-19 pandemic has got us all in a place where ‘being safe’ means staying away from people. A dystopian place, where being surrounded by people is no longer deemed safe. Our perception of what it feels to be safe has been redefined. We have temporarily placed on hold all gatherings. But we still have food – and the need to share it, even if only in a virtual environment for the time being. We’re holding on to food, to cooking, to comfort-eating – as we do when we’re shaken; as we do when we need reassurance and there’s no one around to reassure us. When we need to feel safe.
The lentil and sausage casserole was my ‘feel good’ dish over these past few weeks. There’s something truly comforting in the smell of fried sausages – a sense of reassurance that I have always associated with having meat in the fridge. If there are sausages there’s hope – my grandmother used to say. Little did I know back then how much truth her words were carrying. And then there’s the informality and easiness of a cooked casserole dish. The coziness. The joy!
The sense of plenty given by the rare, almost luxurious French puy lentils. A nod to past city breaks and to exhilarating foodie expeditions in search of the best, the rarest, the most hidden, the undiscovered… Finding a new ingredient or discovering a new dish, a new restaurant wast the ultimate foodie victory. Something that had to be celebrated.
There’s also the subtle flavour of bay leaves: a symbol of wisdom and victory. We will conquer this pandemic, eventually! We will emerge from this lockdown wiser and perhaps more thankful for the things that bring us joy. More grateful for the people around us. For the ones who make us smile, the ones who give us hope, the ones who are listening to us – or who simply are there when we need them.
The lentil and sausage casserole is quite easy to make. For best results, choose some good quality pork sausages from the local butcher. I used ready cooked puy lentils which I love for their delicate, slightly peppery flavour. To the ready cooked lentils I added a mirepoix of onion, celery, carrots and red pepper. Parsnip, leek and/or celeriac could also be added for extra flavour – just use whatever you find in the fridge. The recipe below should be enough for 2 people – or as it was my case – for one (hungry) person, who ate it in one day: for lunch and dinner 🙂
Lentil and Sausage Casserole
- 250 g ready cooked puy lentils
- 3-4 pork sausages
- 1 carrot diced
- 1/2 celery stalk diced
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1/2 red pepper diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3-4 bay leaves
- salt to season
- Preheat the oven at 180C.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the finely chopped shallots, season with salt and cook until soft.Add the diced celery and carrot and continue cooking. Finally, add the diced red pepper and lentils as well as one cup of water and cook until the liquid has been reduced.
- Separately, fry he sausages in a non stick pan.
- Transfer the lentils in a casserole, add a few bay leaves and place the sausages on top.
- Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
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Strawberries are in season this month, and there’s a delicious strawberry and gorgonzola crostini recipe here – check it out!