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Photo: Alberto Peroli
Castelluccio lentils come from the town of the same name in Umbria — actually its full name is Castelluccio di Norcia — in the high plain of the Monti Sibillini, a beautiful and not very traveled area of central Italy. These specialty lentils are very small, pale brownish green in color, with a nutty taste, and they hold their shape when cooked properly.

Castelluccio lentils come from the town of the same name in Umbria — actually its full name is Castelluccio di Norcia — in the high plain of the Monti Sibillini, a beautiful and not very traveled area of central Italy. These specialty lentils are very small, pale brownish green in color, with a nutty taste, and they hold their shape when cooked properly.

I first came across these little delights while working at the agriturismo Poggio dei Pettirossi in Bevagna, Umbria. (An agriturismo is a working farm with an inn and/or restaurant that welcomes visitors. This one had a lovely hillside of olive groves. Its name means “hill of the robin redbreasts.”) Rendering is a chef’s term for cooking a food over relatively high heat so it releases at least some of its fat and becomes brown or crispy. In this recipe, the sausage is rendered in order to lend its flavors to the lentils before all the ingredients are slow-simmered into a soup.