Lentils for Prosperity

This Italian recipe is best cooked with "lenticchie di Castelluccio," a smaller, more rounded variety of lentils. These have a sweeter, less starchy flavor.

1 lb lentils
one small onion
bit of fresh garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
one small can of pureed or chopped tomatoes
water as neccessary

Brown the small onion, a bit of garlic, in 1/3 cup olive oil. Then add 1 lb lentils, the smaller and browner the better (you might want to check for tiny stones which worked their way into the bag) no soaking necessary. Swish the lentils around in the oil until coated. Add the can of pureed or chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and continue (adding small amounts of water as necessary) until lentils are soft, but not mushy. They’re to be eaten with a fork!

This New Year's dish is "traditionally eaten with slices of cotechino (pork also being a sign of abundance), but you can heat up slices of ham or whatever on a bed of lentils.

Myth's Notes:

Money money money! Italian Notebook, February 7, 2012.

Many folks in the USA South eat blackeyed peas and rice (Hoppin' John) on New Year's Day for prosperity throughout the year.

However, the Italian dish for prosperity enjoyed by many Italians and American Italians on New Year's is lentils. Lentils are round like little coins. According to the article where I got the above recipe: "Everyone eats lentils that day, the idea being that they represent coins, and the more you eat on day one, the more you’ll have coming your way that year. In fact, it’s not a surprise to find a cauldron of them served up at midnight at even the swankiest of New Year’s parties."

Lentils are enjoyed in Italy from January 1 throughout the rest of the chilly winter season.

Here is a recipe for Sabina Magliocco's New Year's Lentils

"To make: pick over and rinse 1 C lentils. Place in a saucepan covered with water plus 1", 1 t salt and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until done.

"Meantime, chop finely 1 small onion, 1 stalk celery, 1-2 carrots and 1/2 C parsley. Saute in 2T olive oil in a skillet. When the lentils are cooked, add them to the saute. Add 2 T tomato paste, 1 C water to stock, salt and pepper to taste, and if you wish, a little sage and thyme. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the liquid is absorbed.

"This is traditionally served with cotechino or zampone, fatty Italian sausages that are boiled or steamed, but the quality available in the US is not that great, so the last few years we've been serving it with ham, which is my partner's traditional New Year's food.

"January 1, 2012"

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