The beauty of this simple, hearty dish is that you can be rough with chopping and just as loose with quantities, but you absolutely must “choose a good-quality sausage”, says Melbourne-based cook and Ostro author Julia Busuttil Nishimura. “Something like a nice Italian pork and fennel would be lovely,” she adds.

The comforting recipe is inspired by an Italian New Year’s Eve tradition – lentils and cotechino – except Busuttil Nishimura replaces the fatty cotechino (made from gelatinous parts of the pig) with leaner and easier-to-find pork sausages. The lentils are thought to bring good fortune – “and that is a tradition I stick to”, says the cook.

What makes this one-pan wonder of sizzling snags and earthy lentils really sing? The zesty, garlicky salsa verde, which can be made in advance. In fact, you can prep the lentils beforehand, too. Simply reheat them as you cook the sausages.

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Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s lentils with cavolo nero and sausage
Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 70 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
Sea salt
100ml dry white wine
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tomato, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
350g Puy lentils
1L chicken stock
1 bunch cavolo nero, chopped
6 pork sausages

Salsa verde
1 slice crusty white bread, crust removed, roughly torn
Full-cream milk, for soaking
1 garlic clove, peeled
Sea salt
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
3 anchovy fillets
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Method:
Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Cook the carrot and onion with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the wine, increase heat to medium and simmer for 1–2 minutes. Add the bay leaf, tomato, garlic and lentils and cover with chicken stock. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente. Add the cavolo nero, stir for a minute or two, then cover and remove from the heat.

For the salsa verde, place the bread in a small bowl. Add just enough milk to cover the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess milk and set aside. Finely chop the garlic. Add the salt, capers and anchovies and continue to chop. Add the parsley and the bread and keep chopping until everything is nicely combined. Transfer to a bowl, add the lemon zest and juice and enough olive oil to loosen the mixture.

Cook the sausages in a pan until nicely browned and cooked through. Top with salsa verde and serve with the lentils.

This recipe is from Ostro: Simple, Generous Food for Living and Sharing by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, with photography by Armelle Habib ($39.99). It’s been reissued and available to purchase here.

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