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Economical, Main Dishes, Pork, Spicy

Macheesmo Lentils

by Nick

I used to live in a group house with 4 other 20-somethings. One of the housemates (Hi Carolyn!) would make this great lentil stew in the fall that was filled with tons of veggies. It was spicy and fragrant and she would make enough to feed a small army. After a few times making the dish, we basically started having small cooking competitions between us to see who could come up with the perfect lentil stew.

One of my favorites was a version that uses chorizo sausage to give lots of flavor and spiciness to the dish. I don’t skimp on the veggies either!

There’s a few great things about this dish. First, it is very customizable. You can throw in almost any veggie under the sun. Potatoes, parsnips, tomatoes, leeks, carrots, and celery are just a few that I’ve added in the past. Feel free to experiment. It’s hard to go wrong. Just remember to keep the veggies pretty whole so they don’t get too mushy as they cook.

The second reason why I like this dish is because it’s really easy to freeze and thaw later for lunch or a quick dinner.

Yield
Serves 6.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Macheesmo Lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sausage (I used chorizo, but you could use Italian sausage or kielbasa or even bacon if you were so inclined)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 1 pound dried lentils (green or brown)
  • 12 ounces spinach, washed and torn into pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 bay leave
  • 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 Cups liquid (I used 4 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water)

Directions

1) Cut up the sausage. You can either cut the casing off the sausage and cook it that way or just chop the sausage into slices and brown them well. If you cut the casing off, you’ll have ground sausage throughout the finished dish. If you keep it whole you’ll have huge chunks of sausage.

2) In a large pot (that you’ll eventually cook the whole dish in), add a few Tablespoons olive oil and put it over medium-high heat.

3) Add sausage and cook it until it is cooked thoroughly and browned on all sides. Don’t throw the brown edges out or wash the pan!

4) Chop all the veggies really roughly.

5) Rinse the lentils under cold water to remove any dirt that’s on the little guys. And yes you want to use the whole pound.

6) Once the sausage is browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and quickly add all the veggies to the pan (except the spinach if you’re using it). The veggies will cook in the oil from the sausage! If it looks really dry, add another Tablespoon or two of olive oil.

7) Add whatever spices you are using. In this case I used thyme, red pepper flakes, and a bay leaf.

8) Let these veggies cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the lentils and stir for about thirty seconds to get the lentils warm and coated with all that delicious flavor.

9) Add the liquid. You can use any kind of stock you want or just water if you don’t have any good stock on hand.

10) Let this simmer for probably 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.

11) Stir in spinach in two or three batches.

12) Stir the sausage back into the mix and taste for salt and pepper. Serve it in a big bowl with a big spoon!

Cooking your sausage

The first thing you need to do is procure some fantastic sausage. This really adds the flavor to the dish so get some that’s spicy!

Spicy stuff!

Spicy stuff!

You can either cut the casing off the sausage and cook it that way or just chop the sausage into slices and brown them well. It’s totally personal preference. Basically, if you cut the casing off, you’ll have ground sausage throughout your finished dish. If you keep it whole you’ll have huge chunks of sausage.

I went with the chunks for this version!

Casing or no casing is your choice.

Casing or no casing is your choice.

The sausage is really easy to cook. In a large pot (that you’ll eventually cook the whole dish in), add a few Tablespoons olive oil and put it over medium-high heat. Then add your sausage and cook it until it is cooked thoroughly and browned on all sides.

Your sausage should give off plenty of oil and flavors and there might be bits of sausage stuck to the pan. That’s perfect. Whatever you do, don’t throw that out or wash the pan!

Other ingredients

While your sausage cooks (or before you start your sausage if you aren’t down with the multi-tasking), you need to prep a few other things.

Chop all your veggies really roughly. You want good chunks of veggies, not mush.

Go crazy with the veggies.

Go crazy with the veggies.

As far as the lentils go, you just need to rinse them under cold water to remove any dirt that’s on the little guys. And yes you want to use the whole pound.

Lentil city!

Lentil city!

Cooking the lentils

Once your sausage is browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and quickly add all your veggies to the pan (except the spinach if you’re using it). The veggies will cook in the oil from the sausage! If it looks really dry, add another Tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Also add whatever spices you are using. In this case I used thyme, red pepper flakes, and a bay leaf.

This smells good!

This smells good!

Let these veggies cook for about 5 minutes. Then add your lentils and stir for about thirty seconds to get the lentils warm and coated with all that delicious flavor.

Then add your liquid! You can use any kind of stock you want or just water if you don’t have any good stock on hand. I used a mix of water and stock.

Let this simmer for probably 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.

This makes a lot of food.

This makes a lot of food.

Finishing the dish

Add the very end of the dish, stir in your spinach in two or three batches. It should down almost immediately. Then stir your sausage back into the mix and taste for salt and pepper!

Serve it in a big bowl with a big spoon!

Spicy and tasty!

Spicy and tasty!

I loved this dish. Betsy said that she didn’t love the sausage and would have probably preferred the veggie version that Carolyn used to make. I couldn’t agree with her because it would mean that I would have to admit Carolyn could make better lentils than me. Seriously though, I think the sausage gives a lot needed spice to the dish.

So if you’re looking for a dish that honestly is pretty easy to make (total time is maybe 45 minutes) and keeps well and makes a lot, this is the dish for you. I think it’s perfect for a cool Autumn day!

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11 comments on “Macheesmo Lentils

  1. Looks good man but I agree with Betsy not enough veggies!! I'd add some combo of potatoes, yams, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant or even pumpkin. Oh and for the record, I do make better lentils than you do. xoxo, C.

  2. I use red or yellow lentils and forgo the sausage for Indian spices. Seriously delicious. I'm addicted to this blog. Please keep cooking. It's not that often that I look forward to cooking nearly all of the recipes offered, but in your case—I'm into making almost every one. Next on the list is that darn good looking brisket.

  3. This looks and sounds great. Plus I have a pack of chorizo in the fridge right now, but no lentils. You mentioned potatoes as a sub and I have some of those. I might try this tonight.

  4. Love lentil dishes. Probably my favorite aspect of fall cooking. Between this and the porter braised deliciousness, Macheesmo is winning my favorite fall cooking blog of 2k9!

  5. This is a lovely recipe. I used celery instead of spinach and put the sausage in the lentils while they cooked rather than at the end. Yummy! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Another winner!! Added carrots & celery, omitted spinach & red pepper flakes because I used some kicking chorizo. Even my husband who doesn’t like lentils loved this! Thanks much.

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