Black Lentil Stew with Sausage

IMG_7186Serves 4

I recently had the chance to pay a tribute visit to the Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. While being famous for their baked goods, the cafe also offers savory lunch and dinner fare for hungry customers like us. My husband ordered a Le Puy lentil stew with sausages and I immediately started to experiment with the recipe once back in my kitchen. Cooking the lentils separately from the tomato sauce makes them softer, although my chosen black lentils generally keep their shape. Also, be mindful to choose a good-quality sausage to spice up the meal.

1 cup polenta
1 cup black (or Le Puy) lentils
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (or home-made canned tomatoes)
1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper
4 good quality sausages

Bake polenta according to directions.
Check lentils for debris, rinse thoroughly and put in pot with plenty of water (optional to toss in chopped onion, bay leaf, garlic or carrot), bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender but retaining a bit of bite, approximately 20 minutes.
Drain, saving the broth for another use. Season with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, sautee onion in olive oil until golden brown, stirring often, approximately 8 minutes.
Add tomatoes and simmer gently for as long as you have, minimum 20 minutes while the lentils cook or longer if you have the time.
Also, saute sausages in a cast-iron pan until they are cooked through and browned on all sides, approximately 10-25 minutes depending on their sizes.
Add seasoned lentils and spinach leaves to tomato sauce.
Serve lentil stew over polenta topped with a sausage link.