Castelluccio Lentils with Pancetta and Aromatic Herbs
Lenticchie di Castelluccio con Pancetta ed Erbe Aromatiche
The tiny lentils from the Umbrian town of Castelluccio are prized across Italy for their earthy, sweet taste and their ability to maintain their shape even after long simmering. They are available at Italian specialty foods stores. French Du Puy lentils, more readily available in specialty food markets in the US and Canada, can be substituted.
- 1 and 1/2 cups Castelluccio lentils
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 1/4 pound Pancetta, excess fat removed, cubed
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 sage leaves, minced
- 6 thyme sprigs, leaves only, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups chicken broth or water, plus extra as needed
- 2 tablespoons strained Italian canned tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the lentils, pick them over, and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 2-quart pot and add the onion, celery, carrots, Pancetta, chili, garlic, sage, and thyme. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, covered, or until the onion is soft and golden, stirring once in a while.
Add the lentils and bay leaf, and stir to incorporate. Sauté 2 minutes, stirring gently. Add the broth or water (it should cover the lentils by 1 inch; add more if needed), the tomatoes, and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, and cover; cook over medium-low heat 1 and ½ hours, or until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, adding a little more broth or water if needed. The consistency should be thick, not soupy. Adjust the salt as needed.
Serve hot, drizzled with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkled with the pepper. Serves 6