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SAUSAGE SLEUTHING: Creating a memorable Swiss sausage & lentils dish

Once, when visiting the vineyards along the shores of Lake Geneva, I had a simple dish of lentils with lightly cured pork sausages, and I've been trying to recreate it ever since!


A plate of lentils with Swiss sausage and potatoes served for lunch near Lake Geneva



Today I had a great conversation with the lovely butchers at Farm + Field in downtown Victoria — trying to figure out the kind of sausage that’s haunting my dreams.

It’s a memory of a dish I had for lunch several years ago in a small town along the north shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland — a plate of perfect Puy lentils with a big juicy, and lightly cured sausage on top. It had a chunky texture, with all of the flavour of a fresh pork sausage, but with the pink hue of a smoked sausage.

Lentils and Swiss sausage

Perfect atop my lentils that day, and I’ve been searching for that same sausage — or a local facsimile — ever since.

Though the kind butchers didn’t know anything about this Swiss sausage, they were intrigued enough to call up some potential facsimiles on their phones, and we had a good discussion about what my dream sausage might be.

In the end, I headed home with their fresh bratwurst (which contains some smoky bacon) and the classic Italian sausage.

Then I dug out a recipe (online, naturally) for an easy dish to cook on a Tuesday. I have my own recipes for cooking lentils but this one-pan wonder from Recipe Tin Eats (an Australian blogger with, IMO, great taste and recipes to match), was so simple, I couldn’t resist. It included most of the ingredients I would use when cooking lentils on the stovetop, but everything was baked together in the oven, like all of the popular sheet pan dinners these days, which makes life even easier!

Just saute the aromatics in a baking pan (shallots, garlic, spices), add the lentils, some chopped carrots (I added celery, too), glug in some stock and then arrange the sausages on top, cover with a layer of parchment (slashed in a few spots to let some o the steam out) and pop it all into a hot oven. And hour later, the lentils and sausages are cooked, the latter nicely browned on top.

One pan, oven-baked sausages and lentils at home

It worked out as promised (I added a bit more liquid) — but totally tasty and definitely easy to do. I even put a pan of baby potatoes in the oven alongside, seasoned with coarse salt and drizzled with olive oil, which made a good foil for the creamy lentils.

It was a one-pot, peasant-style dish for a weekday supper, comforting and sort of chic at the same time.

Of course, it inspired me to go down that sausage sleuthing rabbit hole again. And this time I found what might be the definitive answer — Saucisson vaudois.

I believe what I was eating in that outdoor restaurant, overlooking the vineyards that spill down to the shores of Lake Geneva, with that stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, was a smoked raw pork sausage, that’s registered with it’s of PGO (product of geographic origin) and with it’s own association in Switzerland. In fact, a Saucisson Vaudois must be made in this canton near Lake Geneva, from pigs that are born, fattened and slaughtered exclusively in Switzerland.

The other pork sausage that might even be a better match to my memories is Longeole, similarly from the canton of Geneva and described as “raw, unsmoked sausage with a light pink colour and somewhat course texture”, that’s seasoned with fennel. It is typically served with potatoes, lentils or gratin de cardons, says another online source of information about Swiss sausages.

What an amazing system they have in Europe to protect the provenance and quality of local foods!

Lentils, bratwurst, roasted potatoes and beets

After making my lentils and sausages (and roasted potatoes) for dinner, I was pleased with the results. The mild bratwurst from F+F was the best match with the lentils (the Italian sausage spicing fought a bit with the sweet shallots and garlicky lentils), but I’m still on the hunt for something closer to my Swiss sausage. More reading suggests a Toulouse sausage could work (a classic French sausage made with lots of smoky bacon, red wine and garlic), or even a fresh (uncooked) kielsbasa, or some similar kind fresh Polish or Ukrainian sausage.

But let me say, those sausages from Farm + Field Butchers are brilliant – no binders or fillers, their sustainably sourced meats and organic spices, and in many creative combinations.

Just hoping they’ll go out on a limb, and try making one of those yummy Swiss-style sausages soon!



This is a recipe I adapted from one I found on the website, Recipe Tin Eats, from Aussie food blogger and author Nagi Maehashi which is a wonderful source of information and ideas for home cooks. The technique she suggests, for covering the baking pan with parchment, that’s been slashed to let some steam escape, is brilliant. And it’s always great when you can cook dinner in one pan.


Oven roasted sausages and lentils

3-4 tbsp olive oil

6 medium shallots, peeled and sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2-3 stalks celery, chopped fine

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 ½ cups small Puy lentils (or regular green lentils)

3 medium carrots, chopped fine

½ tsp each: salt and freshly ground pepper

3 ½ cups chicken broth (I used homemade broth)

4 large fresh pork sausages (Swiss Saucisson Vaudois, French Toulouse or other similar sausage)


Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C

Cover with parchment

Cut a piece of parchment paper that, when folded in half, will cover the pan. Use a sharp knife to slash three diagonal cuts across the paper (this will allow steam to escape while baking).

Get out a metal 9X13-inch roasting pan and set it on your stovetop.

Add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute together until starting to soften. Add the celery and cumin seeds and continue to cook for a minute or so, then stir in the lentils, chopped carrots, salt and pepper. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Arrange the sausages over the lentil mixture (I pricked each of them lightly on the bottom side to allow the juices to flavour the lentils) and set the parchment on top, pressing down lightly so it completely covers the surface. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the parchment and bake for 20-25 minutes longer, until the sausages are nicely browned.

Check while baking to make sure the liquid doesn’t completely boil away — the lentils should be tender and slightly sauce when done. Serves 4.


TIP: Any leftovers made a great base for lentil soup!



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