melissa hemsley lockdown recipe

Melissa Hemsley’s Lockdown Cooking: Squash & Lentil Curry with Thai Gremolata

Words By Katie Smith4 mins

We recently interviewed UK food influencer and cook, Melissa Hemsley, one of our Women of 2020. Melissa just launched her latest cookbook, Eat Green, packed with fridge-raiding recipes to cook in 30 minutes.

She’s kindly given us a sneak peak with a recipe fresh from the book. And it’s one that freezes brilliantly for your lockdown sustenance!


melissa hemsley lockdown recipe

You drooling? We’re drooling. Extracted from Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £22) Photography by Philippa Langley

The premise of Eat Green is to reduce wastage on the 13 food items we buy, and throw out, most. Now the majority of us are living in self-isolation or lockdown, it’s a more prevalent read than ever. Each recipe takes around 30 mins – which Melissa has calculated is the same time it’ll take you to go the lazy route and order for delivery.

And because Melissa is a super-sharer, we’ve lucked out! We’ll be cooking up this curry and sharing our snaps later in the week. Let us know how you get on! You can read our full interview with Melissa here.

Melissa’s Squash and Lentil Curry with Thai Gremolata

Feeds 6, takes 40 mins

This makes a huge batch, perfect for freezing portions for a rainy day. The flavor 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 of full-fat coconut milk

1.5 litres vegetable stock or bone broth

11/2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp fish sauce or extra tamari

Sea salt


4 garlic cloves

2 onions, halved, or 3 shallots

1 lemongrass stalk or peel from 1/2 lemon (no white pith)

1–2 fresh chillies or chilli flakes, to taste

1 thumb of ginger, roughly chopped


1 handful of peanuts or cashews

2 garlic cloves

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 of fresh coriander, leaves and stems

1 big handful of fresh basil or Thai basil, leaves and stems, plus a little mint if you like (leaves only for the mint)

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.


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.

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.

Get cooking! Come show us what you’ve made. You’ll find us in all the social places via our Linktree.

And go check out Melissa’s Linktree for more recipes to get you through the weeks ahead. Big thanks Melissa!


Words By Katie Smith

4 mins

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