Icy mornings, cosy fires, and comfort food – that’s winter for me. And my hearty Sausage and Lentil Casserole recipe totally fits the bill!
When you get up at six in the morning, and see the ice glistening on the cars and grass you know it’s really winter. When you go outside three hours later and still see it there – well then you know it’s totally comfort food weather.
I’ve been embracing the season by cooking plenty of warming braises and casseroles, in Stanley the slow combustion stove, and in one of my newer toys. Last year my daughter stole my old slow cooker when I wasn’t looking, so I went out and bought one of the new multi-cookers – and I’ve been in love with it ever since.
Not at all expensive, these kitchen workhorses slow cook, pressure cook, sauté, cook rice and beans, steam, and also make yoghurt (very nice yoghurt too, as I found out). The sauté function means that it’s a quick and easy task to brown vegetables and meat before putting them on to slow cook, which results in much deeper and more satisfying flavours. (If you’re interested, I bought the Crockpot Express CPE200, which is currently on sale here in Oz for less than $100).
Another recent discovery for me is that it’s possible to freeze cherry tomatoes whole. Who knew? I was given a huge batch of tiny, tiny cherry tomatoes at the end of summer and just threw them into zip lock bags in the freezer. Added to casseroles, they give a fantastic sweet pop of fresh flavour – so much nicer than tinned tomatoes.
It was these I had in mind, along with some divine Dirty Inc lentils and some free-range pork sausages, when I came up with this recipe. As far as hearty comfort food goes, lentils and sausages are right up there in the A team, and the flavours in this dish added up to waaay more than the sum of their parts. Like so many of my recipes, this is utterly adaptable so feel free to substitute ingredients – and definitely use tinned tomatoes if you have no fresh ones. No judgement here. 🙂
Sausage and Lentil Casserole
- Multi cooker
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 rashers bacon, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 25 mls olive oil
- 4 medium carrots, sliced into chunks
- 600 gms pork sausages
- 300 gms cherry tomatoes
- 300 gms baby blue lentils, rinsed
- 700 mls hot chicken stock
- 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 good splash of apple cider vinegar
- 150 gms baby spinach leaves
- Turn multi cooker on to 'sautée' function, add the olive oil and allow to heat up.
- Toss in the onion and bacon and fry until onion is soft and golden.
- Add the garlic and fry briefly.
- Add the sausages and fry until browned all over.
- Add all other ingredients EXCEPT the spinach.
- Switch multi cooker over to 'slow cook' function, cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
- Before serving, add the spinach and stir through to allow it to wilt.
- Serve alone, or with a big pile of creamy mashed potato and a hearty red wine, and feel wrapped in a hug.