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Happy New Year from the Contessa!

by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Happy New Year to everybody!

In Italy, we traditionally celebrate the New Year at midnight with fireworks and bottles of Prosecco, parties, and concerts in the squares in the center of the town. But I have to tell you that I always celebrate it at home with my boyfriend. I hate fireworks because my pets always get so scared!

In Italy, we welcome the New Year with a huge banquet with special dishes from every region. However, no matter the region, there is one thing that can’t be missed: lentils!

These little legumes bring luck and money.

In Umbria, there is a little valley very famous for lentils in Castelluccio di Norcia

Unfortunately, the earthquake destroyed most of the valley, but it still has a magical flowering every year.


2 cups dried lentils 6 garlic cloves, crushed ½ teaspoon red chili pepper, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ½ teaspoon fresh sage, minced ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced

1 bay leaf Fine sea salt Freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf, and sauté about 2 minutes.

Add the lentils and garlic and pour in just enough water to cover them.

Add the chili pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and allow the lentils to simmer very gently until they are tender and creamy, approx. 40 minutes.

If you prefer a less vegetarian version of this recipe, this dish is perfect with sausages or our cotechino. Cotechino is a fresh large Italian pork sausage originally from the town of Modena. It is made from pork, fatback, and pork rind. The fatback—fat from under the pig skin—gives the sausage a gluey texture and stickiness. So good!

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