Zuppa di Lenticchie, Salvia, Castagne e Ricotta
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"'The best sort of nourishing brown sludge. If dishes could speak, this one would say ‘welcome home’. Follow it with the first clementines of the season and a square or two of panforte, and you have a perfect winter dinner. You can either boil or roast your own chestnuts from raw, or do it the cheat’s way and buy them ready cooked. Whilst I love eating the fresh roasted ones, I don’t love peeling them to cook with, so I buy them pre-prepared for this recipe." - Letizia Clark**
YIELD : 4-6 people
PREP TIME : About 1 hour
LEVEL : Easy
INGREDIENTS : 250 g (83⁄4 oz) small brown lentils 1 onion, diced 1 carrot, scrubbed and diced 1 celery stick, diced 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve 2 bay leaves 50 g (13⁄4 oz) pancetta, cubed or diced 120 ml (41⁄4 f l oz/1⁄2 cup) red wine 700 ml (24 fl oz/3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock, or water 150 g (51⁄4 oz) cooked, peeled chestnuts Sea salt 100 g (31⁄2 oz) ricotta fried sage leaves (optional)
Place the lentils in a bowl and fill with cold water. Discard any strange floaty bits or shrivelled specimens. Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil with the sage. Stir to coat in the oil and add the diced pancetta. Cook for a good 10 minutes or so, until the pancetta just begins to colour.
Add the bay leaves, lentils, wine and stock with 100 g (31⁄2 oz) of the chestnuts, reserving the remainder for decoration and texture at the end. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 30–40 minutes, until the lentils are just soft.
Season the lentils well with salt and serve, with some blobs of ricotta, and an extra drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the chestnuts, finely chopped, on top.
You can also fry some extra sage leaves and use these for garnish too, if you like.
Letitia Clark is a former chef, food writer and illustrator. Having worked in restaurants for many years, she moved from London to Sardinia three years ago and began writing about food as well as illustrating and cooking. Her first book, Bitter Honey, was published this spring to wide acclaim. It is available to purchase at your Local Bookshop or Amazon
Find out more at - www.letitiaclark.co.uk