Lentejas con Chorizo

lentejas con chorizo

Lentils with chorizo could be Spain’s national dish – often found cooked at home, on the menú del día in restaurants and out in the fields with farm workers and drovers. It’s thought the dish originated in the province of Ávila and spread throughout Spain during the 19th Century. You will find many variations, depending on the family, region and what’s to hand. The secret to making it right, is to keep it simple stupid – don’t throw the kitchen sink in there!

lenteja pardina

Beans and pulses are incredibly popular in Spain – in previous centuries, they sustained the poor, while the nobility feasted on meat, fish and game. Lentils (Lens Culinaris) are probably the oldest domestic pulse crop, originating in the Middle East and Asia, which makes them one of our earliest food sources. There are (surprisingly) far more varieties than the common, brown, green and red. The annual bushy plants produce a lens shaped seed, hence lentil. These nutritious seeds can be dried and will last for years if stored correctly, making them a perfect food in a time before cans and refrigeration. In Spain, Pardina Lentils are one of the most popular varieties – they have a nutty flavor, can be cooked from dry (without soaking) and hold their shape during cooking (instead of turning to mush). These days they are grown in huge quantities in America and Spain imports about 95% of the Pardina lentils it consumes.

Pardina Lentils and Chorizo recipe (serves 3 – 4):

1 chorizo picante ring (sliced)
3 rashers of streaky bacon (sliced)
a piece of jamón serrano (or small ham bone)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
1 sweet red pepper (chopped)
1 large potato (cubed)
1 carrot (sliced)
4 large tomatoes (grated)
1/2lb dry pardina lentils
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la vera picante
2 bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
a splash sherry vinegar
1 1/2 pints water
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste


Peel and slice the chorizo, then brown it slightly in extra virgin olive oil. You could just throw it in with all the ingredients, but caramelising it first adds an import dimension to the flavour of the stew. Once browned, remove to a plate. When times are hard, people use  a small piece (an inch or two) of chorizo as the flavouring for this dish, instead of it being a the main feature. A chorizo ring can go a long way on a tight budget.


Similarly, brown the bacon and add it to the chorizo plate. Bacon is an optional extra here, for those not having jamón serrano to hand (or a ham bone).

caramelised onion

Using the same (now flavoured) olive oil, gently caramelise the onion until it goes sticky and starts to melt.

grated tomatoes

When the onion is caramelised, add the garlic and grate in 4 tomatoes to make a sauce.


This is the process of making a sofrito (sofregit in Catalan) and building up flavour.

chorizo, patata y pimentón

Mix in the chopped carrot, red pepper and cubed potato, followed by the chorizo, bacon and pimentón.


Add the rinsed lentils, plus bay leaves, a piece of jamón serrano


and pour on 1 1/2 pints of water.

jamón serrano

The piece of jamón serrano (or bone) in the dish is for flavour. This is normally an off cut and not the finest meat (people keep end bits in the freezer specifically for this purpose). Whole air dried country hams, in a rack (jamónera), are a common sight in Spanish kitchens and in the market, one can buy tacos (small pieces) of jamón, cheaply – these are the pieces that can’t be sliced nicely off a ham. Outside of Spain, a regular ham bone or bacon will suffice. The jamón will fall apart during cooking.


Bring the lentils and chorizo to a simmer and add salt and pepper to taste, along with a splash of sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar or balsamic can be used as a substitute). Cook covered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. This dish can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (on high) for 15 – 20 minutes, but do fry the chorizo and caramelise the onions before putting the lid on.

lentils and chorizo

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero.

About Mad Dog

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17 Responses to Lentejas con Chorizo

  1. Eha says:

    Well, this oft ‘stupid’ one does try to keep this very favourite dish simple 🙂 ! Pardina lentils I cannot get and a potato usually has not plopped into the mix but shall bat my eyes at my darling butcher and see whether he can provide a small ham bone at this season of the year ! Can see that making a big difference. Since the weather seems to agree to being in the 30s rather than climbing another ten degrees upwards it must be almost time to look for my lentil jars at the back of the pantry cupboard – thanks for the taste to come !!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – it must be great to get a reprieve from the heat! Small brown lentils will do, the Spanish love all types and a piece of ham or bacon would work.

  2. Nadia says:

    One of my favourite dishes. Love it for brunch with a fried egg and crusty bread!

  3. Que ricas MD!!! Me encantan las lentejas ✨

  4. Ron says:

    Mad, that’s a spot on dish you’ve made there. I love lentils and eat them in various ways, but never in this fashion. Next, I’m in Copenhagen I know just where to go to get the Spanish ingredients. Another well-done post.

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    That jamon looks beautiful. As does the final dish. I have some lentils and chorizo looking for a recipe. The slow cooker will be dusted off.

  6. Oh yes! This is made almost weekly in our house and eaten as a Plato de cuchara. We bring the lentils back in huge bags from Spain but it’s good too with green or brown lentils I buy in the Indian shops in England. Comfort food at its best!

  7. jmcheney says:

    Just home from a long Sat. at the local kids’ science museum. How I wish I had a steaming bowl of this on the table cooked for me by my Fairy Godmother. Maybe tomorrow I will bestir myself to stir a pot of some remote facsimile with the ingredients on hand: green French lentils & Jimmy Swaggert’s spicy hot Tennessee all natural sausage. It won’t even be close, but maybe it will be tasty – I hope. You always inspire me to try something, Mad. Thank you!

  8. Karen says:

    I can just imagine how good this dish is. You have taken me back to the wonderful Barcelona market with all the jamón Serranos I saw hanging.

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