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Real peasant food

Posted by Sheryl Julian  March 25, 2009 01:22 PM

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I just got around to making a very simple lentil and pasta dish my sister-in-law, Donna, gave me last fall. You can imagine people who had nothing putting this on the table with crusty bread. You begin by simmering lentils in water, then you add olive oil, garlic, and parsley, simmer a little more, then throw in tiny pasta shells and finish the cooking. I thought the dish wouldn't have any flavor, but I used good olive oil and it was terrific. At first, when it's done, the dish is soupy, but when the lentils sit for a few minutes, they absorb the liquid in the pan.

It's a very cheap, very nourishing meal. Talk about making something from nothing.

Pasta and lentils
Serves 4

8 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups green lentils
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup top-quality olive oil
1 cup small pasta shells or soup mac

1. In a large saucepan, combine the water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the lentils, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of the parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Recover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the pasta and continue cooking for 10 minutes more or until the pasta and lentils are tender. (Total cooking time is 35 minutes.) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Stir over medium heat until it is hot again. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Donna Meuse

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Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.
 

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