On the evening of 31st of December, Italian families and friends gather around the table to eat the “Cenone”, a dinner of gargantuan proportions. It is a ritual meal that closes the old year and welcomes in the new one. The courses and dishes change according to the region but in Naples, Enzo’s home it is mostly based on seafood. There is one dish , that is common to the entire peninsula plus the Islands: lentils: They are actually eaten at midnight, even if most people eat them with cotechino (a kind of sausage) during the Cenone and have a supplement at the witching hour. The reason for this is that lentils because of their shape are associated with coins and therefore money, so eating lentils at midnight just after the Prosecco cork pops out is a good omen for the comming year. Every New Year's Eve Enzo cooks lentils according to a family recipe that has been handed down through his Mother. This year there should be a run on the lentils particularly by European bankers and politicians.
Lentils 250 grams
Extra Virgin Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
2 cloves of garlic
Chopped Ripen Fresh Tomatoes 500 grams or a can of very good quality tinned tomatoes.
Tomato paste 1 or two tablespoons
Sage 6 leaves at least
Rosemary 1 or 2 sprigs
1. Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Turn the flame on and bring them to the boil. Put a lid on the top and simmer for 20 minutes. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of salt a couple of minutes before the end.
2. While the lentils are simmering put the olive oil in a frying pan and add two crushed garlic cloves. Gently fry them for a minute or until the garlic looks light golden. Then add the sage and rosemary. Stir the oil the garlic and the herbs for a few seconds then add the tomatoes. Stir in the tomato paste. Depending how ripe the tomatoes are, add one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.
3. When the lentils are ready drain them and add them to the tomato sauce in progress. Mix them gently with a wooden spoon and cook them on a low flame for another 5 minutes. Adjust salt to taste before the end.
Buona Fortuna e Tanti Auguri per il Nuovo Anno
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year