This weekend we finally got snow, and while most of us Vancouverites are total winter wimps, I admit to loving my Saturday night in the snow. We walked to the newly renovated Waldorf to celebrate a friend’s birthday and by the time we walked the 9 blocks, we looked like abominable snow creatures. But being outside while the snowflakes covered everything, including ourselves, made the late night so much brighter and beautifully quiet. Snow on the west coast is a novel and fun thing, but only because I know it’s temporary. And this morning I was happy to discover that almost all of the snow has melted and the sidewalks are no longer slushy danger zones. Blasts of winter are best when they’re short-term which is why I love Vancouver’s climate so much.
This lentil dish is perfect for cold winter nights. It also contains fennel which has become one of my new favorite vegetables and is readily available all winter. If you wanted this to be a strictly vegetarian affair, just skip the sausage or trade in the meat for your favorite vegetarian sausage links and you’ll still have a fantastic meal. Serve with a crusty peasant bread and a bottle of red wine.
lentils with fennel & sausage
(adapted from Gourmet)
1 c dried French lentils
2 T olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, sliced thinly
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 t fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1/2 t crushed chili pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, tough ribs removed & sliced
2 European-style sausage links, sliced
salt & pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Add the lentils into a medium-sized pot and cover with lots of cold water. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and saute the onion, fennel, red pepper, fennel seeds, and chili flakes until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and add in the kale and let that soften before adding in the sausage and let that cook for a few minutes, adding in some of the lentil water if it gets too dry.
Drain off most of the water off the lentils, but keep at least half a cup or so and add it all into the sausage, kale and fennel mixture. Stir in vinegar and toss everything together. Adjust seasonings if needed and serve with crusty bread. Makes 4 main course servings.