Pasta and Lentils

This is a tasty dish that suits this season very well. And, according to Nigella Lawson’s introduction, will work on New Year’s Day too. The advertised hope for prosperity is a year-round one, so eat this any time you’d like!

Here’s what happens.

Get garlic, onions and pancetta and rough chop them.

Garlic, onions and pancetta.

Garlic, onions and pancetta.

Spin them in the food processor until they look like this.

Chopped finely.

Chopped finely.

So you are prepared… get the tomatoes.

Pre-chopped tomatoes.

Pre-chopped tomatoes.

And the prosperity-inducing lentils.

Coin-like shaped lentils.

Coin-like shaped lentils.

Cooked garlic, onion and pancetta.

Cooked garlic, onion and pancetta.

Cooked garlic, onion and pancetta.

Add the lentils,

Add the lentils.

Add the lentils.

and the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes too.

Add the tomatoes too.

The liquid from rinsing the tomato can, the chicken stock and the bay leaves go into the pot.

Tomato can rinse, stock and bay leaves are added.

Tomato can rinse, stock and bay leaves are added.

Cook for 30 minutes, covered.

Cook this for 30 minutes.

Cook this for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, get the pasta.

Orecchiette.

Orecchiette.

If it’s too big, bash it until you have small pieces.

Bashed and broken orecchiette.

Bashed and broken orecchiette.

After 30 minutes, take off the lid, bring the mixture to a bubbling state and add the pasta.

Now add the pasta.

Now add the pasta.

After 10 minutes, the pasta is cooked and you have:

Pasta and Lentils

Pasta and lentils.

Pasta and lentils.

 

From Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson (Have I mentioned that my copy is autographed? Yes? Okay.).

This is either a lentil soup with pasta, or a dish of pasta with lentils, depending on where you are in Italy. And when I say that, I don’t mean so much where you are geographically: this differs from house to house, family to family, day to day. My version is on the soupy side, or at least it is on its first outing; any leftover soup with thicken on cooling.

This recipe does double duty for the New Year: on the one hand, it is carbohydrate dense and well suited to sopping up seasonal excess: on the other, lentils are customarily eaten on New Year’s Day in Italy as their coin-like shape is thought to bring prosperity for the year ahead. Since I have given a recipe for a New Year’s Day lunch of lentils and sausage before, this recipe simply begged to be included here in its stead.

Pasta and Lentils
Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 onion, peeled and quartered
6 ounces (approximately 11 slices) bacon or pancetta
Small handful fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups lentils, brown or green, rinsed
14-ounce can diced tomatoes, plus 1-2/3 cups cold water to rinse out
2 bay leaves
2-1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
8 ounces pasta mista (mixed), or any broken or small pasta shapes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chili oil, or extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Put the onion, bacon or pancetta, parsley, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and chop finely.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven that has a lid. Add the contents of the processor and stir to cook over a medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened.

Stir in the lentils and then the tomatoes, then fill the emptied tomato can with cold water and add this, too. Throw in the bay leaves.

Stir again and pour in the broth and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and let the lentils simmer, with the lid on, for 30 minutes, by which time they should be soft.

Remove the lid, turn up the heat so that you’ve got a bubble, then add the pasta and cook it in the pan, with the lid off, for 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Season to taste, then put the lid on, turn off the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve with chili oil, or some extra virgin olive oil, for people to drizzle over each bowl as they eat.

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