“Sausages & Lentils with Herb Relish” from “From the Oven to the Table”

I was stacking the deck by choosing to make this recipe. Tim loves lentils. We all love pork products. I knew it was going to be a winner even before I had bought the ingredients.

Once again, there’s a genius move, and this time it’s to cook the lentils in the oven. Usually when I make lentils it’s a bit of a faff with all the stirring on the hob, whereas this one you bang them in the oven (along with some stock) and then you can forget about them. That truly is my style of cooking.

The family had one note for me, however. I got Cumberland Sausages from our most excellent butcher, Dring’s (shoutout to the best butchers in London!) but they always have an amazing array, including monthly specials. Tim and Nicholas thought this would be better with Italian sausages, which is what I’ll get the next time.

Yet another winner from Diana Henry.

“Sausages & Lentils with Herb Relish” from “From the Oven to the Table”

“Sweet Peppers and Sausages” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

I could probably write a full 5,000 word essay on what my Ideal Dinner would be. But as I currently don’t have the time to do so, let me cut straight to the conclusion: It would be something like this dish.

Easy to create after a full day working? Check.

A full complement of vegetables included in the recipe? Check.

Bang it in the oven and forget about it while it cooks? Check.

Easily sourced ingredients? Check.

Of course, the ideal dinner can vary from night to night, depending on any number of variables. But this one definitely hit the sweet spot. It helps that our local butcher Drings has the most amazing sausages. But still.

Calling a dish an ideal dinner is fairly high praise, I think. We will be enjoying this again. And again.

If you would like to try this recipe, the Toronto Star helpfully published it, along with a review of the book. Click through here to read it.


“Sweet Peppers and Sausages” from “Dinner: Changing the Game”

“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

IMG_8092Maureen: We’re having sausages for dinner!

Andrew (16) and Nicholas (12): Yeah!

Maureen: With lentils!

Andrew and Nicholas: Boo!

Tim: Well, I’m happy about it.

Maureen: I know you are. I am too. I’m a fan of lentils.

Tim: Really? I don’t think that was always the case.

Maureen: Maybe not, but I like them now. What do you think?

Andrew: I like the sausages. I don’t like the lentils.

Nicholas: Ditto. And I think the green stuff on top [Editor’s Note: A type of rocket pesto], makes it even worse.

Tim: You guys need to be more adventurous. Lentils are good, and good for you. This is good.

Maureen: Maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t make the tradition New Year Good Luck Lentils on New Year’s Day.

Tim: Yes, perhaps.

If the rest of your family does like lentils, I recommend you try this. It’s a great midweek recipe: easy and fast. Click through this paragraph to see the original recipe in the Guardian.

“Lentils with Sausage and Pecorino” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Stuffed Peppers with Sausage, Herbs and Torn Bread” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Peter: This vegetarian dish greatly benefits from the addition of sausage meat.

Anna: Not a grain of rice in sight! It’s all sausage with a couple of tomatoes and some yummy herbs mixed in. I liked the torn bread that you stick in at the end to soak up all the juices.

Peter: It was surprisingly filling. What’s not to like?

Anna: I appreciated the fact that they were really quick to prepare. I could do them ahead of time and leave you to stick them in the oven while I went for a run. For that reason we’ll be having them again, for sure.

“Stuffed Peppers with Sausage, Herbs and Torn Bread” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Rigatoni and Umbrian Sausage Ragu” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Anna: It’s very annoying, but I compare every recipe like this to sausage sauce. It is made with sausages after all, and I make sausage sauce every couple of weeks, so it’s inevitable.

Peter: What’s it called?

Anna: Umbrian sausage ragu.

2014-05-31 20.22.10

Peter: It certainly tastes rustic.

Anna: That will be the chunky carrots and celery.

Peter: It’s good. It’s not sausage sauce.

Anna: I’d probably like it more if I had never had sausage sauce. But whilst it’s fine, I’m just finding it a bit…. unrefined? Rustic? Not as nice I guess. Plus I’m not a huge rigatoni fan. You shouldn’t need a knife and fork to eat pasta!

“Rigatoni and Umbrian Sausage Ragu” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMSausagesOr, in Italian: Salsicce e Lenticchie

Maureen: I made this one especially for Dad.

Andrew (14): Why Dad?

Maureen: Because Dad LOVES lentils. He is its number one fan.

Nicholas (10): I can’t say I agree with him.

Tim: Why don’t you agree with me?

Nicholas: Don’t you remember that time we had lentils on New Year’s Day?

Tim: Yes. We try to do that every year. It’s supposed to bring us good luck for the year.

Nicholas: Yes, well, I didn’t like them then, and I don’t like them now.

Maureen: But then you’ll NEVER have good luck for the year!

Nicholas: I don’t care. I don’t like them. Never have, never will.

Maureen: OK. How about everybody else?

Andrew: Meh. I like the sausages. I like the lentils, but I don’t love them.

Tim: I love it all, but especially the lentils.

Maureen: Which is exactly why this is dinner tonight.

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”

Dear Mrs. Contessa:

Can I call you Barefoot? No, I won’t. That’s just silly. I’ve never met you, so I’m going to stay formal.

First of all, please don’t take anything that I say here personally. I’m sure you’re a lovely person. Hey, anyone who guest stars on “30 Rock”, my favourite TV show, totally rates in my book. But what I’m about to say might be a bit harsh.

When I saw your recipe for “Bangers & Mustard Mash” in your “How Easy Is That?” cookbook, I thought, “Great. That’s perfect. We eat that all the time, so that truly will be, ‘How Easy Is That?” But it was a TOTAL disaster, and would have been even worse if I had followed your instructions to the letter.

In your introduction, you say that you went to a wedding in London where they served “bangers and mash” at their wedding reception. You said, “It was the best wedding food I’d ever eaten and it had so much style.”


Style? Bangers and mash? Maybe I’ve really gone native, having lived in England now for 14 years, but I don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I love bangers and mash. They just don’t seem particularly stylish to me.

Also, I totally understand being beguiled by mustard mash. It seems so exotic for an American. Mashed Potatoes! With Mustard! How interesting! The exact same thing happened to me as I had my first mustard mash when I was reviewing London restaurants for Lonely Planet. I thought they were the Best. Thing. Ever. At the time, I had only been a Londoner for 9 months, so I felt the same as you. But what I didn’t appreciate then, but do now, is that mustard mash is a pretty bog standard mash offering.

Where did things go wrong, Mrs. Contessa? Bangers and mash. Trust me, it couldn’t be easier. I’m willing to bet this is one of the dishes they teach in Home Ec or Food Tech or whatever they call it these days. Let me take a moment to provide a recipe autopsy, perhaps so you can see the error of your ways.

Continue reading ““Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?””

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”