A perfect autumnal vegetarian (even vegan!) dish: earthy, warm and delicious. All freshened up by the lemon grass. Do make it and you'll get hooked.
Photo: Silvia Nacamulli
PREP - 15 minutes
COOK - 40-45 minutes
SERVES - 4-5
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to garnish
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed (1 finely chopped and 1 bashed)
700g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and sliced into 2x2cm chunks
150g red lentils, rinsed a few times in cold water
400ml tin coconut milk
Coriander or fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Warm the oils in a medium saucepan, the add the onion and leave to sweat over low heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the turmeric, ginger, the finely chopped lemongrass and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and cook over low-medium heat for 5-8 minutes.
Add the butternut squash or pumpkin and sauté on a medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile rinse the lentils, changing the water a few times, then add them to the pan. Stir, add the coconut milk, stir again and cook for 5-7 minutes, then add 600ml boiling water.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash or pumpkin is cooked and soft - about 20-25 minutes.
The consistency should be a little thin still, as the liquid will continue to be absorbed by the lentils once the heat is turned off. Add the bashed lemon grass stalk, stir, cover with a lid and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
Serve hot or warm topped with chopped coriander or parsley to taste. You can also add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for extra flavour.