Making things a bit sunnier by adding apricots to lentils with sausage and prunes

Lentils with sausages, prunes and apricotsGourmandistan’s old Kentucky home is once again undergoing the Commonwealth’s standard version of Winter, where “the sun shines bright” line in the official state song seems only a bitter, damp and cloudy joke. Looking to brighten things up a bit while avoiding all the heavy work we did while preparing for Thanksgiving, Michelle updated this Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall lentil dish with a dash of dried apricots. We really enjoyed the way the apricots’ tartness added to the savory lentils and sweet prunes, all of which enhanced some excellent sausages from our new favorite butcher.

Fearnley-Whittingstall recommended a baked potato and some greens along with his version, but our Thanksgiving-tired selves settled for a side of mashed Kennebecs, which we thought helped knit everything together. There’s a long way from now until Spring, but if we can keep getting our hands on sausage, apricots, prunes and lentils, things might not be so bad.


(adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in The Guardian)

  • 1 TB+ olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stem celery, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 pork sausages (7″ or so), sliced in half crosswise and casings pricked with a fork
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. French lentils (preferably Le Puy)
  • 1/3 c. pitted prunes, halved
  • 1/3 c. dried apricots (preferably from California), halved
  • Freshly ground pepper

Heat the oven to 300° F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small Dutch oven. Add the onions, season with salt and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to color. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, bay and thyme. Cover and sweat over low heat for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add lentils and stir.

Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and brown the sausages on all sides, but don’t cook thoroughly. Add sausages to the casserole. Deglaze the frying pan with a little stock, then pour into the casserole.

Add the prunes, apricots and remaining stock to the casserole. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in oven.

Check after about 45 minutes. Stir and add more stock, if needed. Cook until lentils are done, about 1 hour total. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with mashed potatoes and some Colman’s mustard.


  1. This is great. I’d never thought of adding prunes or apricots to a lentil stew, though I love using dried fruit in savory recipes, and love lentils. Great idea, thank you for sharing!

    • It is really delicious and so easy. It may be The Meal of the Fall/Winter of 2016 here at our house, we’ve made it so many times. Not much (OK nothing) good to come out of that period, but this dish is a small consolation!

    • Yeah, I like fruit and meat together a lot. I know others don’t. Strangely, the hardest thing for us is to find California dried apricots which are so much better than the ubiquitous Turkish ones.

    • Thanks, Amanda! Yeah, hopefully I’ll be back in the Charleston area in May. But, in the meantime, we’ll do Christmas in New Orleans again, so something to look forward to this otherwise quite bleak Winter of 2016.

  2. Those sausages do look superb indeed. I wish my family loved the sweet-savory mix as much as I do, then I´d make dishes like this one all the time. It looks, sounds, and smells (yes, I can smell it from here) absolutely amazing!

  3. Sigh. This is so beautiful to me. But my husband doesn’t like to mix savory with sweet. Even though when we were first married he ate a lovely fruit-stuffed leg of lamb I made for Easter. Now he just refuses. I guess I’ll have to make this and just eat it all myself.

  4. looks really inviting. I do not know how popular H F Whittingstall is in the US, but I think he is really worth following. Good , sound recipes. His Meat and Fish books are particularly good as well as a minor one called Three ingredients (or something similar), where he bares cooking down to its most basic.

    • I don’t know how popular he is here … outside of our house, where’s he’s very popular! I bought the Meat book when it first came out and use it all the time. We are lucky that, although rare when that book came out, we are now able to get well-raised local meat. I’ve also got a couple of other books of his, but not the 3 ingredient one. Thanks for the tip!

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