Nigel Slater’s recipe for lentils, sausages and harissa


The recipe
Lightly brown 4 fat sausages in a shallow pan with 2 tbsp of groundnut or olive oil. While the sausages are cooking, peel and thinly slice 2 medium-sized onions and 2 cloves of garlic. When the sausages are nicely coloured, lift out and set aside, leaving the fat in place in the pan.

Stir the sliced onions into the fat and leave to cook for 25 minutes or until the onions are soft and deep amber in colour. Stir in the garlic after 20 minutes.

While the onions soften, cook 250g of small, brown lentils in deep, boiling water for about 20 minutes, until they are tender.

Chop 200g of small, fresh tomatoes and stir them into the softened onions. Continue cooking for 7-10 minutes until the tomatoes have collapsed, then stir in 2 tsp of harissa paste. Slice the sausages into thick pieces and add to the onions.

Drain the lentils and incorporate them into the tomatoes, onions and sausages, check the seasoning. Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley leaves.
Serves 2

The trick
May I suggest you don’t try to hurry the onions? It’s easy to fry onions quickly at a high temperature, but if you let them take their own time, they will become a soft, deep amber in colour and sticky in texture. Depending on the onions and the heat you use, expect this to take anything from 25-40 minutes.

Using the sausage fat from the pan in which to cook the onions will add an extra layer of flavour.

The twist
You could make this into a warming, substantial casserole by stirring in 250ml of tomato passata then baking it for 25 minutes at 200C/gas mark 6. Check the seasoning before doing so, adding a little more harissa paste as you think fit.

Alternatively you could make an instant version using tinned lentils or vacuum-packed cooked lentils instead of boiling your own.