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In Search of Castelluccio Lentils


  • 2 oz finely diced pancetta
  • ¼ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup Castelluccio lentils
  • 2 cups mixture of chicken broth and water
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 stalk celery (cut in half, if needed, to fit in the pot)
  • 2 slices rustic bread, sliced, toasted, drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a pan large enough to hold the lentils, add a teaspoon of olive oil over low heat. When hot, add the finely diced pancetta. Slowly stir to render out the fat and get the cubes crispy (if you cook too fast or at too high a heat, the fat will just get sealed in).
  2. When the pancetta is crispy, remove to a small bowl, leaving the fat behind.
  3. Add the diced onions and add a pinch of salt. Stir until the onions are very soft. Cover the pan to help the softening.
  4. Rinse the lentils under cold water and drain. Add them to the onions and stir until the water begins to evaporate a bit.
  5. Add the broth and water, celery and garlic (Do not salt yet).
  6. Cook the lentils over low heat until they are cooked through, about 30 minutes. If they are still too al dente, add a little more water and cook for 15 minutes more.
  7. When done, discard the celery and garlic.
  8. Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of cheese and the crispy pancetta bits.
  9. Have a glass of wine to toast Nonna Durna!!