Melissa Hemsley's Squash and Lentil Curry with Thai Gremolata
This makes a huge batch, perfect for freezing portions for a rainy day. The flavour bomb comes from the topping, which is inspired by Italian gremolata, but here it’s made Thai-style with lime, basil and coriander. Don’t skip it!
|1 tbsp||ground cumin or 1 tsp seeds|
|1 tbsp||ground coriander or 1 tsp seeds|
|1 tsp||ground turmeric|
|2 tbsp||ghee or oil|
|1||large butternut squash (about 1.2kg)|
|400g||split red lentils, rinsed|
|1 × 400ml tin||full-fat coconut milk|
|1.5 litres||vegetable stock or bone broth|
|1 tbsp||fish sauce or extra tamari|
|For the curry paste:|
|2||onions, halved, or 3 shallots|
|1||lemongrass stalk or peel from ½ lemon (no white pith)|
|1–2||fresh chillies or chilli flakes, to taste|
|1 thumb||ginger, roughly chopped|
|For the Thai gremolata:|
|1 handful||peanuts or cashews|
|juice and zest of 2 limes|
|1–2||fresh chillies, to taste, seeds included if you like|
|4 tbsp||extra virgin olive oil|
|1 big handful||fresh coriander, leaves and stems|
|1 big handful||fresh basil or Thai basil, leaves and stems, plus a little mint if you like (leaves only for the mint)|
You will need a food processor.
Toast the peanuts or cashews for the gremolata for a minute in a large, deep-sided saucepan until golden and set aside.
Make the curry paste by blitzing the garlic, onion, lemongrass, chilli and ginger in a food processor – it doesn’t need to be totally smooth.
Add the spices to the pan you used for the nuts and let them toast for a minute, then add the curry paste and the ghee or oil and fry gently for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile chop the squash into 2cm chunks. I don’t bother peeling it, just remove the seeds, which you can toast or roast for another recipe.
Add the squash and lentils to the pan with the coconut milk and stock or broth. Give it a stir, then pop a lid on and let simmer over a medium heat for about 25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so, watching out so the lentils don’t catch on the bottom of the pan, and adding more liquid if it looks dry or if you like it soupier. Season with tamari, fish sauce or a little salt.
While the curry is cooking, make the gremolata. Add the toasted nuts to the food processor (no need to wash it out from earlier) with all the other ingredients and pulse until just chopped – it should be drier and chunkier than a pesto and full of flavour and tang. Serve the curry with a good dollop of gremolata on top.
Tip: Swap the squash for other roots like sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede or celeriac. And if you can’t find lemongrass easily, buy extra and keep it in the freezer.
Waste not: This gremolata is a great excuse to use up coriander and basil stems, as well as half a leftover onion or scraps of spring onions or chives. If you don’t use it all here, it’s great on roast veg, fish or chicken or in noodle stir fries.