Stews have a pretty high positive predictive value when it comes to diagnostic tools.

They sit on the stove, simmering away.  Perfuming your entire apartment with their luscious scent.


And you sit at your desk, ostensibly studying but most probably watching Glee. Or the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion.  Depending on just how trashy you feel at the moment.

Sniffing away.  Your stomach growling with reckless abandon.


You become inured to the smell after a while, your olfactory receptors adapting so that they don’t get overly stimulated and burned out.  But every once in a while they recharge.  You get a whiff.  And think.  Damn that smells good.

And it’s at this moment that you can rest assured that your first cranial nerve is in good working order, you lucky dog, you.

The significance of which is that you will not be getting Alzheimer’s Disease in the next ten years.  Rock.  On.

(Yes, it’s true.  Studies have shown that people who eventually go on to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s lose their sense of smell approximately ten years prior to its onset.  Crazy.)


Once I discovered this, I immediately started to smell everything in sight.  Which is not necessarily a good thing when the objects in sight are dirty laundry and old gym clothes.

But is truly an awesome thing when you have a huge pot of red lentils, sausage, and tomatoes simmering away on the stove.  First of all, because you get to reassure yourself that you will not be going senile at the ripe old age of 33.  And second of all because.  After the extremely strenuous diagnostic testing is over.  You get to eat this stew.  Which, with it’s rustic charm.  Is possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.

So, have a cranial nerve testing party.  Invite all your friends.  All in the name of public health, of course.  And eat this stew knowing that, although it tastes damn good, you’re really just doing it for your health.  After all, it’s never too early to get tested.


Homemade Italian Sausage
Makes 1.5 lb, adapted from Symon’s Live To Cook

1 1/2 lb pork shoulder, either diced or ground by your grocer
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted

1. Combine the meat, sugar, salt, garlic, and fennel seeds in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. If you diced the meat, then grind the sausage in a grinder or food processor.  Return it to the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.  If you bought the meat already ground, then you are good to go!

Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking

1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup red wine
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley and feta cheese for garnish

1. Cook the sausage in a large pot, breaking into crumbles with a spatula as you go.  Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in the same pot.  Add the onion and carrots, and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the sausage, lentils, chicken broth, tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, bay leaf, oregano, and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a boil.

5. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley and feta crumbles.

This is my submission to Symon Sundays, hosted by Ashlee over at Veggie by Season, to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen, and to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. This is linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen’s Countdown to 2011!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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103 Responses to Homemade Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew

  1. Gorgeous Stew. Now I can smell it from the screen. What does that tell you about my Cranial Nerve?

  2. THIS LOOKS DIVINE! Love the Alzheimer’s trivia, too 🙂 I can’t wait to make this, and maybe I’ll even attempt to make my own sausage!! PS- You forgot the ultimate trashiness of TV-watching… Jersey Shore. In fact, it might be too trashy to watch while you eat this dish. *fist pump*

  3. This looks great and I love the homemade sausage! You know I’ll now be trying to smell everything in sight! Thank you very much for that LOL! Oh, and I’m calling my parents this morning and will beat around the bush as to whether or not they’re smelling things these days! Just need to check now.

  4. SnoWhite says:

    Wow — this looks delightful, Joanne!! I’m with Cool Lassi(e) — I can smell it from here too 🙂

  5. Karla says:

    I was just thinking that I needed to find another lentil recipe (since I have like 400 lbs. of them in my pantry. Ok, not really that much.) Thanks for sharing this! Totally going on my menu for the next 2 weeks! 🙂

  6. Kristen says:

    Smell is one of my favorite senses, I can’t imagine what a loss it would be…and what a horrible sentence to know that within 10 years of its loss you would lose yourself, too. UGH, Joanne, what a depressing thought.
    The stew helps. It does look delightful.

  7. Lori says:

    Wow does that sound good!

    I dont think there is ever a bad meal at your house Joanne. All beautiful and enticing.

    How funny about the smell thing. I wonder if that goes for other types of dementia.

  8. Giovanna says:

    Absolutely awesome! Never thought it would be a good thing that I can smell the nasty wet dog or the babies dirty diaper : )

  9. Katerina says:

    Lentils mmmm… now that Fall is here this dish is ideal for a rainy day like today. I wish I had one in front of me.

  10. girlichef says:

    This sounds fantastic!!! And I did NOT know that about the smelling things…and now I’ll never forget…thank you for putting that reassurance in my brain 😉 So cozy and warming…love it!

  11. My boyfriend would DIE of happiness if I gave him a bowl of this 🙂

  12. Shannon says:

    cranial nerve testing party? lol. this sounds delicious, and your own sausage? too much 😉

  13. This stew sounds amazing with homemade sausage!

  14. Victoria K. says:

    Look at you, making the sausage and everything 🙂 A true talent in the kitchen!!

  15. Jen says:

    this is my kind of MEAL! you rocked this one!

  16. Simply Life says:

    hmm…interesting about the sense of smell! I wish I could smell this so that it meant it was close enough to eat it!

  17. Stew looks delicious,loved the tempting clicks of it..very beautiful

  18. Katie says:

    Oh wow. I can smell it through my computer, which probably means that my olfactory nerve is defective. By the way, I’m loving all of the neuro references of late 🙂

  19. Alzeimers must be a way’s off for me because I can smell it from here! Excellent looking meal. Impressive that you MADE the sausage! Nice.

  20. Stella says:

    Alzheimer’s at 33? I’m almost 33-me hopes not (smile)…
    This dish not only looks delicious, Joanne, but it is really beautiful too. I want a bowl…!

  21. Mary says:

    Talk about hearty! Talk about delicious! I’d have no trouble finishing a bowl of this, Joanne. It looks wonderful. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  22. What an interesting study about Alzheimer’s disease! I love to ask my MIL if she lost her sense of smell but I don’t think she’d remember 🙂

    You know I love lentils so this sounds fantastic. The homemade sausage also sounds wonderful – I’ve got to try it.

  23. Pam says:

    I’ve never thought to make homemade sausage before. This stew looks AMAZING and so comforting.

  24. That just made my stomach growl! Looks so good!

  25. janet says:

    Fall stews so early?? Is it cold in NY so soon, Joanne? 😛
    This looks so delicious.. almost makes me want to pick up some sausages to try it!

  26. This is inspiring me to consider making my own sausage . . .

  27. Mo Diva says:

    im loving this!

    I like the homemade sausage recipe! Niiiice!

  28. Tasha says:

    Wow. I don’t even have the words to describe how good this looks and sounds to me right now. How I wish I had a big bowl of it in front of me, 90 degree weather and all.

  29. elra says:

    It look magnificent, never made homemade sausage, now I am tempted 🙂

  30. Dawn says:

    So many recipes to try….so little time.

  31. Camilla says:

    YUM! This looks so good! I must try it IMMEDIATELY…my stomach is growling just looking at it!

  32. Deborah says:

    To me, there is very little better than to smell dinner cooking away in the kitchen. (Especially while watching Real Housewives…) 😉

  33. Julie says:

    mmm soup & stew or whatever always looks so good and then when it comes down to it i’m a total soup copout! i should probably get my soup on this winter

  34. Monet says:

    I had no idea about the connection between smell and Alzheimers…I’m always learning new things here! This looks like it would fill any house with some amazing scents…I wish I had a bowl in front of me right now. I hope you have a great weekend love!

  35. This stew contains a few of my favorite things. It is a cold wind that blows in Chicago today and it is headed your way I think. Good that you have this on hand. I’m going to make some but think I’ll let Whole Foods do the sausage.


  36. Ameena says:

    I can’t believe that you make your own sausage! I am terrified and overwhelmed by the ready made versions so seriously, I am impressed!

    I love my slow cooker for the same reasons you love your stews…the smell alone makes it worth the effort!

  37. Amy says:

    I’ve often wondered which of the five senses I could do without, if I HAD to choose. Site and smell would not be contenders. While I would love to never catch a dose of that stinky dude on the bus ever again, I could not go the rest of my life without smelling garlic. Or fresh bread. Or bacon. Or a fabulous stew like this one.

    More importantly, HELL YA BABY!! ROUND TWO!! You rock.

  38. Louanne says:

    First, this looks awesome, love lentils! Second, way impressed about the sausage. And finally, fascinating tidbit about Alzheimers. At least I know I’m safe for at least 10-years, too.

  39. Angela says:

    Love your blog- the photos look so tasty!

  40. I like the looks of that a LOT. And let me tell you about smelling everything – one of the weirder side effects of pregnancy. Socks, hot city streets, ick.

  41. Nirmala says:

    I love lentils. Another recipe for my arsenal.

  42. Barbara says:

    I’m loving all these winter dishes, Joanne. Especially the ones with lentils. I love ’em and they are so good for you!
    And I give you great credit for these marvelous dishes because my NYC daughter says it’s hot up there!

    Also, it’s nice to know I have another 10 years….

  43. I felt more and more comforted as I scrolled down the page.

  44. tigerfish says:

    *sniffing hard*…*takes deep breath* …intense flavors. yummy.

    And you even made your own sausage. Wow.

  45. Raina says:

    It must smell amazing. I love lentils and would love this stew. This is my kind of comfort food:)

  46. This sounds (and I know it smells) fabulous! I’ll have to be making this with some of my lentil stash. Thanks!

  47. Debinhawaii says:

    A stew with lentils and homemade sausage–what’s not to love here?! It looks delicious. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. 😉

  48. Jennifer says:

    What a fabulous dish!!! Im always looking for new ways to use lentils!

  49. Mmmmm, I love when dinners involve multiple proteins. So much better that way!

    Happy weekend!

  50. Foodjunkie says:

    Thanks for the home made Italian sausage recipe. I cannot find good Italian sausages here in Greece, so it is good to know that i can make my own so easily. The stew looks gorgeous. Perhaps I’ll give lentils a try again. I am a lentil hater…

  51. Always ready to try new recipes with lentils! I can imagine very well how this would nicely flavour the tofu that I would use to replace the sausage 😉 Your pictures have amazing colours!

  52. Priya says:

    Such a beautiful and fabulous stew, am loving it..

  53. Juno says:

    This is so my kind of food: hearty, colourful and simple. Wonderful photographs.

  54. Faith says:

    Homemade Italian sausage sounds amazing! And it’s made even better by adding it to stew. That’s really interesting about Alzheimer’s…lol, I’m probably going to go around smelling things now too! 🙂

  55. Debbie says:

    You make the most interesting dishes. Nothing is better than homemade sausage. So much better than store bought!

  56. Katy ~ says:

    This looks totally amazing, delicious, and nutritious. Would love a bowl of this and then another…

  57. Martha (MM) says:

    Delicious! I think I can smell it from here across the land of blogs and right through my monitor – does that mean I’m insane? Do insane people even have to worry about getting Alzheimer’s? Either way I want a nice big bowl of that stew 🙂

  58. Julie says:

    This looks delicious! We have a local meat market that makes the best Italian Sausage. It would be great in this dish.

  59. Mo says:

    Uhm… you just made Italian sausage. When I read the title I was like, “OMG she made sausage!” And then I figured the “homemade” part was probably referring to the fact that the stew was homemade. Even though that wouldn’t make sense since everything you make is homemade. But can you blame me? Who makes their own sausage? Besides Joanne, of course. *sigh*

    This looks fantastic, though. Great job! 🙂

  60. Mary says:

    What a wonderfully comforting stew. I love it and the sausage recipe you shared with us. I made several types of sausage last spring including one with cheese from an old Sicilian recipe. Your food always looks wonderful. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  61. Vivienne says:

    yummo! you always seem to cook the type of hearty wholesome food that i wanna make but never got around to.
    good to hear that for the next 10 years your entries won’t be repetitive due to alzheimers 😛

  62. I made pork sausage for my husband and father-in-law over the summer… and let me tell you that for a pescatarian it wasn’t the easiest experience. But, I did it and they enjoyed it… so I guess it was a hit. This stew, however, would work wonderfully as a vegetarian option and I’m thinking I’ll have to give it a try.

  63. have a lovely weekend, darling!

    xo Alison

  64. Alisa says:

    Just looking at the ingredients this stew does sound amazing in both taste and scent! I am curious though, why sugar in the sausage? Somehow meat and sugar sound just wrong to me – is there a reason?

  65. wow! i love the big white bowl too. beautiful.

  66. Sounds great, stews always have such highly developed flavours because of long slow cooking, delicious!

  67. katiez says:

    I’ve been getting into red lentils lately… add sausage and it’s on my table, soon. I’m good for the next 10!

  68. Wow, I had no idea about the Alzheimers/smell link. Fascinating! Great way to showcase your homemade sausage – yum!

  69. Karen says:

    Mmm, this smells wonderful!

  70. pajamachef says:

    homemade sausage. looks divine!

  71. Mackin-Art says:

    Just finished a bowl of this wonderful stew – it is seriously delicious!

  72. Big Dude says:

    Wow Joanne – this dish looks magnificent – I may have a package of homemade Italian sausage in the freezer.

  73. Nicole, RD says:

    I saw this photo on foodgawker and to no surprise, it was your gorgeous dish! It looks AMAZING!!

  74. Reeni says:

    I was just thinking today I should try to make my own sausage…and here you are with this delicious recipe! So warming and comforting. And gorgeous. I can smell it from here!

  75. Sounds (and looks!) delicious! I have to give this recipe a try! Yum 🙂

  76. Kalyn says:

    I think I can smell it through the computer. (Does that mean I won’t get Alzheimers? Hope so!)

  77. Ok, dish up something like this and I’ll volunteer to come over to and test my senility at your place any time. That just looks to die for 🙂

  78. Kim says:

    Life without the sense of smell? I couldn’t handle it!
    I love the way you used your homemade sausage. There is just something about the combination of lentils and sausage that is magical. Kinda like peanut butter and chocolate.

    Just made my relish and sausage tonight. Trying to figure out how to tie it in with a Bittman recipe for tomorrow. I can’t seem to break free from the last minute blues.

  79. theUngourmet says:

    Thank God I still have my sense of smell! I’m in the clear…for now.

    I am loving lentils right now. Wonderful dish!

  80. aipi says:

    Hearty n comforting..beautiful n colorful stew!

    US Masala

  81. This looks delicious. I love the homemade sausage.

  82. Beth says:

    That stew looks wonderful. I only wish I could smell it through your blog!

  83. Homemade sausage? Girl, you are truly a find. Interesting info indeed about smell and Alzheimers. To bad my nose is always stuffy and I don’t smell that well. Now my hypochondria will not be getting better anytime soon ;p.

  84. Chris says:

    Right this second I am eating a sausage and cheese biscuit with the first batch of sausage I ever made. I wanted to make Italian sausage next and was going to be looking up a recipe. You just saved me the work.

    Glad to know your cranial nerve works. What were we talking about? Where are my keys?

  85. Megan says:

    I love stews and this one sounds addicting-ly delicious! Now I want to go smell everything to make sure my cranial nerve is still intact.

  86. I am the queen of stews and this one is just right up my street. I love everything in here. And yes the smell that is permeating for hours throught the house is something that i look forward to. Simply gorgeous! Loving this! Yumm!

  87. Kerstin says:

    Mmm, this is my kind of dish – I love all the ingredients and I’m impressed you made your own pork sausage!

  88. Tracy says:

    This looks amazing! Love it!

  89. Marisa says:

    Wow, did not know that about Alzheimers! My gran had it and I’m petrified of following in her footsteps – The Notebook makes me weep everytime.

    Having said that, if I could eat this stew everyday I might not even mind the Alzheimers as much. Although, if can’t smell properly, would it still taste as good? *ponders*

  90. Eliana says:

    I guess I always feel trashy cuz I’m always up for some NJ Housewives action.

  91. rachel says:

    I haven’t tried making my own sausage yet but it doesn’t seem that hard… As for the stew, it looks great! I’d love to learn to make more things with lentils because they are supposed to be so good for you – and cheap too!

  92. Such a good one course dish ! 🙂

  93. Wow, this seriously looks delicious. It is exactly what I’ll be simmering on Sunday while I study for my mid-term. Thank you!

  94. Oh man now I’m going to be totally paranoid whenever I start to lose my sense of smell!! Love the parsley and feta on top. Did you see the last episode of glee with tina and mike’s dance?? SO cute I loved it.

  95. Christina says:

    This stew is gorgeous and sounds amazing. I am loving soups and stews with lentils lately!

  96. SnoWhite says:

    What a beautiful stew, Joanne. I’m thankful you reminded me of this recipe. Happy New Year!

  97. I love the homemade sausage.

  98. Looks like very delicious, thanks for sharing it here, good going, keep posting more.

  99. […] Three years ago…Homemade Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew […]

  100. MrsJennyK says:

    I just wanted you to know that I came across this recipe a couple of years ago and have made it regularly ever since. I have to admit that I skip the whole making-your-own-sausage bit… But the base stew is fabulous and I’ve turned my MIL on to it too. She always says hers isn’t as good as mine. Perhaps I’m holding a little something back? 😉

  101. Jen Bezanson says:

    So glad we tried this, the flavor was fabulous! I don’t care for wine, and was dubious that this would come up to the standard of the yummy lentil-sausage stew we’ve relied on since the 1970s. I could have finished off the pot – this was that good! I used some sage sausage we had in the fridge and added a handful of celery from the garden because, you know, it was beckoning. Not having roasted red pepper, we made do with home-dried bell pepper bits, and let it simmer covered just a little longer to be sure that was completely softened. Clearly this recipe is adaptable. Next time I’ll make the sausage and completely follow your instructions. Thank you for a delicious dinner.

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