Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Lenten Lentils

My post about Benedictines making wine (France) and beer (Italy) reminded me that I once posted a great Lenten recipe for lentils.  I recall that there was some controversy about the use of chicken stock.

I made the lentils last year (I had to improvise a little) and they were really good.  I’ll give it another try tomorrow.  The excess freezes well.

Here’s the recipe from the monks at Norcia, which they sent out in their newsletter.

St. Benedict’s Lenten Lentils

Serves 4-6 People

Olive oil
1 minced carrot
1 rib of minced celery
1 minced white onion
4 minced garlic cloves
17.6 oz (500g) of small brown lentils -Italian or Umbrian if possible (Lenticchie di Castellucio)
5 1/4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 of a 28 oz can of peeled, whole Italian tomatoes (diced)

1. Sauté the minced carrot, celery, onion and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes.
2. Add stock, lentils, bay leaf; bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add diced tomatoes and salt to taste, continue cooking for at least 15 more minutes, until lentils are tender and have slightly thickened.
4. Remove the lentils from the heat source and let them sit covered for 10 minutes (this will help thicken them).
5. Serve drizzled with olive oil and accompanied by toasted bread.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PostCatholic says:

    I’ll share a favorite of our house–not Lenten friendly, but nevertheless delicious. Sometimes I’ll do a whole chicken en cocotte over this recipe.

    4 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
    1 carrot , finely diced
    1 onion , finely diced
    2 celery sticks, you guessed it, finely diced
    2 bay leaves
    1 cup French green (“Puy”) lentils
    1/2 cup medium or dry sherry
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 tbl Dijon mustard
    1/2 tsp dried herbs of your liking. I often used a herbs de Provence blend.

    Render the bacon, drain, saute the aromatics, add the lentils, bay leaves and remaining ingredients. Cook on low heat about 60-90 minutes.

    I looked back at your earlier post. Did you mix cocktails with the celery bitters? Bloody Marys or others? I have a bottle of Fee Bros. plum bitters, but have found them a bit too strong for most drinks, though they are nice in a poundcake batter.

  2. PostCatholic says: celery bitters

    The celery bitters originally had one function: a component of a cocktail called “The Fourth Regiment”, which is Rye based and incorporates several types of bitters. In all my time travelling, I’ve only found a couple bartenders who had heard of it.

    Poulet en cocotte with these lentils. Sounds very good. That looks like a solid, reliable recipe. Dry herbs rather than fresh? Different flavors, I know, especially the oregano.

  3. benedetta says:

    We’ve gone largely pescatarian at my house for Lent.

    This week I plan to try this one out:

  4. richdel says:

    Thanks for sharing, Fr. Z.

    I would suggest that adding a couple drops of “Liquid Smoke” to such a recipe will give the Lentils a nice bacony flavor. Wright’s is a good brand. At the same time, one’s conscience can rest assured of breaking no rule of abstinence; the ingredients on my bottle of Wright’s Liquid Smoke read:


  5. APX says:

    Lentils have been one food I’ve never taken a liking to. They truly do put the “Lent” in lentils for me. The other food being chickpeas (bäh). With Holy Week fast approaching, and a bag of brown lentils I bought for reasons unbeknownst to me, I will make a large batch of this for the week.

  6. PostCatholic says:

    Dry herbs rather than fresh?

    This is a recipe I do most often at our home in the Blue Ridge. Maybe when or if we retire we’ll be able to cage off a garden, but for now a herb garden would amount to feeding the deer, and besides, dried herbs give a good excuse to shop at Penzey’s. But that stipulated, I am sure fresh tarragon and/or thyme would be lovely.

  7. Sandy says:

    I love lentil soup (recently discovered) and have a recipe sitting out ready to make. APX, you mean you don’t like humus? :) Try that form of chickpeas, or garbanzos as we call them at my house. Happy Lent! (I guess it’s a happy one as both hubby and I are offering up surgeries, his more serious.) Thank you, Jesus, for miracles.

  8. Titus says:

    APX, you probably aren’t cooking those lentils and chickpeas long enough. They both have a rather unpleasant bite at first, but they both yield to extended, slow cooking. Pasta e ceci, pasta fazool, and various permutations of this vegetable lentil stew are all fantastic when properly handled.

  9. Therese says:

    Oh, Father! How lovely! Reminds me of that New Year’s dish, Cotechino con Lenticchie.

    Richdel, I’ll try the liquid smoke, but alternatively you must add the zest of a large lemon to the lentils’ cooking water then its juice to the finished dish–I think you’ll like it.

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