Christmas and Holiday Gift: Lentils for Good Fortune

Lentils are a new favorite around here.

I figured out that if you cook them with a nice ham hock, they taste great. My friends gave me a gift last year that included a lentil recipe and the dry ingredients with which to make it. I've included a vegan version, too.

Here's my version of that same gift. Throw in a bottle of wine for good measure. It can be included in the stew, or drunk alongside it.

A great celebration, La Festa di San Silvestro takes place in Italy at New Year's that features the humble lentil. It is thought that lentils bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year. You can read about it here, and be happy that you can share this tradition with your friends via this wonderful gift.

First up, is my lentil butternut squash with ham stew. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to make split pea soup with ham. I figured one dried small legume was the same as another. I was right. Nice and nutty, this is a wonderful recipe. You can include walnuts, chicken stock, bay leaves, curry powder and lentils for this version.

Below is another variation, that involves lentils, rice and saffron. Again, and always with beans, in my opinion, include a bay leaf or two, and chicken stock. I love to present gifts in the pot or pan you might cook them in. Place the lentils and all the dry ingredients in a saucepan with a lid, add a bow and you're set. I've also included a mason jar of rice with the same ribbon. Print out this recipe and attach it to the bag or basket the gift is in. Voila! Instant holiday meal.


Cooked Lentils with Saffron


  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 to 8 ounces saffron
  • 1 cup cooked rice, according to your taste: basmati, jasmine, pearl
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place lentils, water, saffron and bay leaf in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper.
  3. Reduce to medium-low, let simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes, until softened.
  4. While the lentils cook, brown the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.
  5. Mix together the onions, garlic and lentils. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper if needed and serve over rice.