Caper Relish brightens weekday sausage and lentils

Sausage stew and lentils are classic French comfort food and by streamlining the recipe we’re taking it out of the country and straight into the evening rotation.

Many traditional recipes make a fuss out of an otherwise simple meal, often cooking the lentils and sausages separately and then assembling them together for a final baking process. Instead, in this recipe from our book, Cook What You Have, we break with tradition and use pantry staples to put together easy weeknight meals, using one skillet from start to finish.

We use Italian sausages because they are already seasoned with spices and you can choose between spicy or sweet depending on your heat tolerance. After browning, we use the spicy stock in the pan to add flavor to the lentils.

Dark green French du Puy lentils take a little longer to soften compared to other types of lentils, but it’s worth cooking them a few minutes longer as they hold their shape nicely once fully cooked. Even then, the meal only requires about 20 minutes of active work.

A quick indulgence of capers, parsley, and lemon zest and juice adds a welcome touch of tangy herbal and citrus flavor. A small amount works wonders to balance out the rich sausage and earthy lentils.

Braised Sausages and Lentils with Parsley Caper Relish

Start to finish: 55 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound sweet OR spicy Italian sausage

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 small red OR yellow onion, chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup Lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

To the fat in the pan, add the carrots, onion, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, lentils, and 2 cups water, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (the lentils will only be partially cooked).

Place the sausages on top of the lentils, cover again and cook until the lentils are tender and the sausages reach 160°F, 23 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Stir in the parsley and capers; set aside until serving.

When the lentils and sausages are done, remove the pan from the heat. Place the sausages on a cutting board and cut diagonally into pieces of the desired size. Taste and season the lentils with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving platter. Place the sausages on top. Serve with the parsley caper relish.

EDITORS’ NOTE: For more recipes, see Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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