My recipe for lentil and bacon pasta stew

As promised more of my own recipes. This one is adapted from an Elizabeth David book on Italian cookery. It’s brilliant if you are being frugal (as I am), you could even miss out the bacon altogether, though I would replace it with some smoked paprika. (Plus swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock, and it’s vegetarian) Also, when VERY frugal, instead of using parsley leaves, I use finely-chopped parsley stalks. I freeze all my herbs in freezer bags and have always got loads of stalks to use to flavours soups or stocks. Don’t let the huge amount of garlic scare you, it cooks down into a sweet mush.

The recipe makes enough for four as a main I reckon. It freezes well too.

You will need:
4 tbs good olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 or 3 good-quality smoked bacon rashers, cut into squares
1 stick of celery cut in 1cm lengths
the peeled cloves of half a bulb of garlic
6 oz. of brown or green lentils (or a mixture of both)
1 tin of tomatoes
3 tbs chopped mint leaves
4 tbs chopped parsley leaves
2 pints light chicken stock
2 oz. pasta (any kind)
salt and pepper

What to do:

  1. Pour boiling water over the lentils and allow to soak for 30-45 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil until soft, then add the bacon and fry for about five minutes.
  3. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the drained lentils and stir around so that the lentils soak up the oil.
  5. Pour in the tin of tomatoes, along with the mint and parsley. Season. Simmer until most of the tomato juices have been absorbed by the lentils.
  6. Add the stock and bring to a good simmer. Allow to cook for about an hour, perhaps slightly longer.
  7. When the lentils are served add the pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. Check the seasoning.
  8. Eat!

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