Two Years Ago: Holiday Breakfast Strata
There's something about sausages and lentils that says "fall" to me. Add in some roasted vegetables and you have a beautiful rustic dish that's both healthy and filling. My inspiration for this dish was two-fold. First, if you're a fan of Costco, you'll understand completely that we wandered by a tasting table and liked the roasted pepper sausage with manchego cheese they were tasting. We now have four packages waiting in the freezer. One of my games when that happens is to find new and interesting ways to use the Costco ingredient without repeating the same recipe over and over.
My second inspiration was seeing some gorgeous French baby carrots at the grocery store.
Because my carrots were so small I roasted them whole rather than cutting them up, and I roasted the very smallest ones separately so I could take them out faster.
After that it's just a matter of cooking the lentils and sauteing the sausages.
You have a couple of choices with this dish. The first is the type of sausage you use. Definitely buy precooked turkey or chicken sausages (Amy's or Aidells are two good brands), but the choice is whether you buy primarily savory (Italian, roasted pepper, etc.) or slightly sweet (chicken, apple and maple, for example). If you buy savory sausages the recipe calls for manchego cheese; if you buy an apple or maple variety you add maple syrup to the dressing, substitute blue cheese for manchego cheese, and adding fresh apple pieces. Your choice.
The other choice is whether to serve it hot or at room temperature. If you decide to serve it hot I'd suggest adding the cheese at the last minute on top so it doesn't melt into the dish.
Either way, it's a great and unique fall and winter dish.
Sausage and Lentils
For the salad dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (if using sausage with apple or maple flavors, otherwise omit)
1 cup of small French green (or small black) lentils, uncooked
1 fennel bulb
1 small red onion
4 carrots (less if adding apple, below)
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3-4 precooked smoked sausages (your favorite flavor), cut into ½” pieces on an angle
½ cup cubed Manchego cheese (if using savory or spicy sausages) or crumbled blue cheese (if using apple or maple sausages)
½ cup fresh apple cubes (if using apple or maple sausage, otherwise omit)
Mix ingredients for dressing together in a jar with a lid. Shake well.
Cook the lentils according to package directions; drain.
Preheat the oven to 450d. While the lentils are cooking, roast the vegetables: slice the carrots in small chunks about the size of your thumb. Trim the leaves off the fennel bulb; core and cut into ½” wedges. Slice the onion into ½” wedges. Toss the carrots, fennel, onion and garlic with a tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and then place on a baking sheet. Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes, turning over after half the time, until the carrots are fork-tender. (If your carrots are larger or smaller change the baking time accordingly.)
While the lentils are cooking and vegetables are roasting, sauté the sausage pieces in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned.
Toss the warm lentils with some of the dressing. After the lentils have cooled somewhat, add the remaining dressing, roasted vegetables, browned sausage, cheese and apple (optional) and serve. Garnish with additional thyme leaves if desired.