This fall in Los Angeles has been all over the place. I personally think we're being punished for having a not very hot summer. We have had some of the hottest days of the year in the last month or so. It's not so fun to cook on those days, but there are the days that cool down and make me want to get in the kitchen. When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it ASAP. It's very similar to something I made last year, but I couldn't pass up a chance to try this version. The cooking method is very similar to risotto. I love the instructions in the original recipe to "cook the lentils until they are tender and suspended in a creamy sauce". Sounds magical, huh? I wanted this to have some substance so I kept the vegetable amounts the same, but reduced the amount of lentils. Instead of pulverizing the vegetables in the food processor, I just chopped them pretty finely by hand. The drizzle of balsamic vinegar was a sweet and tart compliment to the savoriness of the lentils and vegetables. A hint of spice would have been pleasant, but it's certainly not necessary and the leftovers were even better. This is a great dish for not just dinner, but brunch or lunch as well! Do yourself a favor and serve it with some crusty bread to soak up any of the juices.
Umbrian Lentil Stew with Olive Oil Fried Eggs
(Adapted from Food and Wine, March 2009)
Makes 2 servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons green lentils
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
Handful of arugula leaves
Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until the fat has rendered.
Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomato paste and stir over medium-high heat until it coats the vegetables and is shiny, about 1 minute.
Add the lentils and 1 1/4 cup of the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until most of the broth has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup of the broth and continue to simmer until it has absorbed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of broth until the lentils are tender and the sauce has become a bit creamy, about 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a bit of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and cook until the edges are golden and the whites have set, but the yolks are still runny.
Spoon the lentils onto a plate and top with the eggs and a sprinkle of arugula. Grate cheese over the eggs and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.