Umbrians love their lentils, and the tiny, beige lentils grown in the fields around Castelluccio are wonderful. Lentils can be used in soups, salads, or when braised make a great side dish for grilled or roasted meats. One of my favorite ways to enjoy braised lentils for a light dinner, is simply topped with an egg as shown in the photos. When you cut into the egg, the yolk will run into the lentils creating a delicious flavor and creamy texture. Lentils are also very good for you, being very high in dietary fiber which is known to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and stabilize blood sugar. Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians. Although lentils include such beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are also low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
When choosing lentils, use the small green or beige lentils, not the larger orange ones, and the smaller lentils retain their shape and texture better, while the orange lentils can become mushy. I had fresh, local sweet corn in my refrigerator when I made this dish, so I added some into my pot, but sweet corn is not a typical ingredient found in Italy, so feel free to leave it out if you prefer. To make this dish vegetarian, simply leave out the pancetta, and use vegetable and not chicken broth.
Deborah Mele 2013
Braised Lentils Topped With An Olive Oil Fried Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 Ounces, Finely Chopped Pancetta
- 3/4 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 3/4 Cup Finely Diced Carrot
- 3/4 Cup Finely Diced Celery
- 3/4 Cup Sweet Corn
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Thyme
- 1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary
- 3 1/2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
- 2 Cups Dry Beige or Green Lentils
- Salt & Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 Large Eggs
- Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil and add the pancetta.
- Cook, stirring often until the pancetta is cooked and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, carrot, celery, corn, and garlic, and mix well.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the broth, lentils, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the lentils are tender to the bite, about 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- In a frying pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and fry the eggs just until the whites are cooked through.
- Serve the lentils in individual bowls, then top each with a fried egg.
- Drizzle the leftover oil over the eggs, and season with salt and cracked pepper.