The traditional version of this recipe sees the lentils served along with cotechino (a large sausage that is boiled and sliced into discs), or, more rarely, zampone, pig’s trotter. Unable to bring myself to start an new year eating boiled sausage (or worse) I’ve come up with the below – a little ‘watered-down’ on the meatiness front, but much spiced-up with the addition of coriander seeds, cumin, and turmeric. I’ve also snuck in some dark green cavolo nero, it’s not exactly a ‘detox’ dish, but just about a virtuous enough for a relatively guilt-free start to the new year.


(Serves 4)

  • 1 brown onion – finely chopped
  • 2 small sticks celery – finely chopped 
  • 1 large carrot – finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic – crushed
  • A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 175g Castelluccio, Puy, or other small green/brown lentils
  • 100g dried chickpeas
  • 250mls vegetable stock 
  • 4 spiced Italian sausages
  • A few leaves of cavolo nero – roughly chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Extra olive oil for drizzling

Soak the chickpeas overnight, then gently boil in a large pot of water for 30 minutes. Drain and put aside.

Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy-based pan and lightly fry the onion until soft, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Next, add the spices, along with the carrot and celery and cook for a further few minutes until softened.

Add the lentils and chickpeas, along with the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, cover, then turn the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or so, then add the cavolo nero, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes or so until the leaves wilt a little, and the liquid is mostly absorbed. 

While the lentils are cooking, heat a little oil in a separate pan and fry the sausages over medium heat, browning on all sides. Keep turning the sausages until they are cooked through – about 15 minutes should do it.  

To serve, squeeze the lemon juice over the lentils and stir this through. Also stir through the picked thyme leaves. 

Pile the lentils into shallow bowls, drizzle some olive oil, and top with the sausage, whole, or sliced into pieces, as you prefer.