Lentils and pork sausage
Many years ago, our cousin Cecco invited me to a New Year’s Eve party in Bari. Known as the Vigilia or Capodanno. It had been many many years since I had been there at that time of year and so off I went! The party was in an old ‘Palazzo’ overlooking Lungomare in Bari and the beautifully glistening Adriatic. Music was playing, people were dancing and it felt like a scene from a Grace Kelly film! I had no idea of the tradition of the cenone (big feast)! This enormous meal features several courses – well – would you expect anything less from the southern Italians?
The foods served were symbolic of wishes for the coming year and were accompanied by plenty of festive drinks like Prosecco or spumante (sparkling wine). Pork is considered a lucky New Year's food because it's so fatty and rich and the lentils represent coins for prosperity. The most traditional of the dishes at the New Year's party was the lentils with pork sausage. Tradition has it that eating a portion of cotechino with lentils before midnight is a good omen for the new year. It is supposed to bring good luck and wealth.
As is typical for the south of Italy, Cotechino was born as a poor dish that the farmers usually ate with vegetable soups and minestrone. The Cotechino is pre-cooked and packed in aluminium foil, so it simply needs to be reheat for 45 minutes and then serve with lentils. Once cooked, my cousin loves it fried so the outside is crispy!
This is the traditional dish to serve on New Year’s Eve, along with lentils.
(can use fresh, large butchers sausages if unable to find the Cotechino)
400g Brown/green lentils
10 fresh cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
1 stick of celery, cleaned and chopped into 1cm pieces
Terre Di San Vito’s extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the lentils:
Add the lentils to a saucepan.
Add enough cold water to just cover the lentils.
Add the fresh tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, a tablespoon of Terre Di San Vito’s extra virgin olive oil, the chopped and cleaned celery stalk
Bring the lentils to the boil and cook for approx. 2 hours
Halfway through the cooking of the lentils, add a large pinch of salt
The lentils are ready when they are soft to the bite.
Keep an eye on the lentils so they do not run dry – add a little water if required
Preparing the Cotechino:
In a large saucepan of water, boil the Cotechino until cooked (approx. 30min)
Follow the instructions on the packet as different makes will have slightly different cooking times
When cooked, carefully remove from the foil packaging and slice into 1cm rounds.
In a heavy bottomed pan or griddle, put the slices of sausage for a couple of minutes each side so they are slightly crispy and golden – it adds an extra layer of flavour.
Putting the dish together:
This is a celebratory dish and should be displayed showing the abundance of the produce
On a large serving dish, place the lentils
On top of the lentils, add the slices of Cotechino
Bring the dish straight to the table and serve!
From our family to yours, we wish you a happy new year:felice anno nuovo e buon appetito!
Serve with a bottle of our fabulous Terre Di San Vito’s Sparkling Brut white wine