I headed out to the garden before the hot summer sun could fully take its toll. I found our Swiss chard standing high, begging to be picked. Between the beets and beans, the former peeking their roots out from the soil and the latter preparing to flower, I bent down and plucked the stems one by one until the fists of my two middle children – two and six – were full. I turned and plucked some leaves from the sweet potato plant, an underused green if you ask me.
Her name was Charlotte. We visited her when she first arrived and my children told me fond stories of her from their trips down our dirt road for the nightly goat milk pickup. She was a friendly pig, they said, and much excitement surrounded her stay on our neighbor’s homestead, even up until her final days. When our little man – nearly eight now – returned with the usual three quarts of fresh milk, he also presented me with two fat rolls of Charlotte sausage. She had served her purpose, it seems.
Earlier that day I had put a pot of lentils in our solar oven. It wasn’t supposed to be much more than a Simple Lentil Salad, but the days findings – fresh sausage from a pig we knew, greens standing tall in the garden, a few “wipe ‘maters” (as my toddler calls them), and a big handful of garden herbs demanded otherwise. We don’t eat like this everyday here on our homestead, but when we do it reminds me of how much of an appreciation for food one has when you know all that truly goes into it – the seeds, the sweat, the toil, and yes, the blood.
The sausage and lentil mixture is delicious and comforting, but some might consider it homely. This piquant and herbaceous tomato salsa adds so much to the dish that I’d dare not leave it out, at least not when fresh tomatoes and herbs are at hand.
- 1 lb pork sausage fresh
- 1/2 large onion
- 4 cups cooked lentils
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard stems removed
- sea salt to taste
- 2-3 medium tomatoes
- 2 stems fresh oregano
- 1 small handful fresh basil
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- Place sausage in a medium skillet or pot and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, over medium heat. Once the fat begins to render out, add the onions and fry together until the sausage is cooked and the onions are translucent. Add the chard and saute until wilted. Stir in the cooked lentils, season with salt to taste, and remove from heat.
- For the salsa, chop the tomatoes fairly small and add them to a bowl. Roughly chop the fresh herbs and sprinkle over tomatoes. Drizzle over the vinegar and the oil and season with sea salt to taste.
- To serve, spoon the salsa on top of the sausage-lentil mixture and enjoy.