More lentils this week, and I like this dish even better than the last one. Lentils with kielbasa takes just an hour to cook in one big, heavy pot. This one forced me to try a new ingredient: escarole. I’m sure I’ve eaten it, but I’d never cooked with it. It’s a bitter green that wilts into the stew after a few minutes to tame that pungency. And then it’s perfect and very welcome between earthy lentils and browned pieces of kielbasa.
The original recipe for these lentils comes from a feature on weeknight stews in last October’s Food & Wine. Melissa Clark shares five recipes with a twist or two on traditional French stews, which she says are lighter than some heavy winter French stews. I’d agree, as these lentils are substantial but not overwhelmingly filling.
Anyway, we made a couple changes. The kielbasa browned and cooked up into what looked like small meatballs when cut into 3/4-inch pieces, but I prefer them a bit smaller for more sausage flavor in each bite. Also, the garlic goes in a few minutes after the thinly sliced leeks and diced carrot cook on their own for a bit to avoid burning the garlic. We also just went straight for the kielbasa rather than the French garlic sausage.
I’ll be making this one again, especially as it begins to (hopefully!) cool down over here. It was just a hint cooler the other morning, and maybe that means a Florida fall isn’t far off.
lentils with kielbasa
Lentils get so much flavor in this stew from aromatic leeks and garlic, and complementary sausage and toasted hazelnuts. We used kielbasa, a Polish sausage, but a French garlic sausage would also work. Escarole, a bitter green, brings in the last element needed here and shouldn’t be skipped. Serve with mashed potatoes on a cooler night, and enjoy any leftovers the next day.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound kielbasa or French garlic sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 leeks, only their white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups French green lentils
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small head of escarole, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the kielbasa and cook over medium to medium-high heat until browned, 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
Place the leeks and carrot in the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until softened, about 7 minutes, adding the garlic when there are just a few minutes left. Add the lentils, the thyme and bay leaf (which you can wrap in an herb bundle), and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and bring heat down to low. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.
As the lentils cook, heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast until golden and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Rub the skins off if you’d like, and coarsely chop the nuts.
Combine the mustard and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Add the kielbasa and chopped escarole to the lentils and cook until the greens are wilted, about 6 minutes.
Move the stew to bowls and serve hot with a drizzle of the mustard oil, chopped hazelnuts, and parsley.
Serves 4 to 6. Adapted from Food & Wine