1Pick over and rinse the lentils, and put them in a medium saucepan. Put the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns on a square of muslin or jelly bag. Tie into a little pouch with string, rubber band or clothes peg. Add the pouch to the pan along with the onion and carrot. Fill the pan with cold water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately lower to a gentle simmer and simmer, uncovered, until just tender (30 to 40 minutes).
2While the lentils are simmering put the sausage in a small saucepan or deep skillet with enough water to cover by about 1cm. Bring to a bare simmer. Poach for about 10 minutes.
3While the lentils and sausage are cooking make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. Mix in the olive and walnut (if using) oils. Season to taste with salt.
4Drain the sausage, cool under cold water and peel off the casing. When the lentils are cooked drain them and discard the herb bag and vegetables. Add the dressing to the lentils while they are warm.
5Slice the peeled sausage into 1/4-inch rounds and quickly griddle. Add the sausage to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and spring onions/scallions, and season with a generous amount of black pepper, plus more salt and vinegar to taste.
A dish which is very similar but would be more welcome on a cold day is a classic lentil and smoked sausage casserole.
Serves 4 / Preparation time - 10min / Cooking time - 50 min
4 Montbeliard or other smoked sausages (Kielbasa for example)
200g lentils (dark green or brown)
2 large carrots
1 stick of celery
3 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
200mls chicken stock or bone broth
200mls water - approx
1 tbsp olive oil
Peel and dice the vegetables medium fine. Sauté in a medium casserole in the oil.
Season and add the lentils, stock, water, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender. Top up with water if it looks a bit dry.
Add the sausages whole to the pot and allow them to poach for fifteen minutes. Fish out and cool under a cold tap. Cut the skin lengthways and peel off. Finely dice two of the sausages and return to the pot.
Slice the other two sausages on the bias approx ½ cm thick and fry in a dry pan until nicely charred on both sides.
When the lentils are done, discard the herbs, arrange the slices of sausage on top of the lentils and serve – with mustard of course.
If a lentil and sausage soup is more to your liking, add more stock or water when you’re cooking the lentils. A few more vegetables (kale or cavalo nero for example) will also add to the mix.