THIS week Charlotte has turned her hand to a vegan recipe - but you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy it.

The braised coconut lentils, roasted butternut squash and pickled red onion dish serves four and takes 25-45 minutes to prepare (plus one day pickling time).

Charlotte, who reached the semi finals of 2020 MasterChef, said: “One of the most common questions I get asked is do I have any good vegan recipes. Regular readers will probably notice I am not the best cook to be asking this question, we live on a farm and protein and dairy does feature a lot on the dinner table. However, the environmental impact of this lifestyle is not lost on me, in fact quite the opposite, as a family we try to play our part.

“A couple of years ago I cut down the amount of meat we were having and ensured we had at least one day completely meat free and increased the amount of fish we were eating on the other days, with the reduction I could then afford to spend more on the meat I did buy and support local business who provided a tastier quality. Vegan is obviously a step further and cutting out diary has been a challenge but hopefully you will find this dish has loads of flavour and fills you up. Its quick to make and ticks off the vegan meal for the week.

“The pickling liquid can be used for a variety of vegetables including cabbage, cucumber and carrots. Pickled veg is great with most dishes and adds that acidic balance, they also keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, so you can make a batch and keep tucking into them.”

The Leader:


Pickled Red Onion

• 125ml rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

• 125ml water

• 75g caster sugar

• 1 tbsp table salt

• ½ tsp peppercorns

• 1 bay leaf

• ½ tsp mustard seeds

• 1 red onion

The Leader:

Charlotte with the dish

Braised Coconut Lentils and Butternut Squash

• 1 ½ tsp ground coriander

• 1 ½ tsp ground cumin

• 2 onions finely chopped

• 4 garlic cloves crushed

• 1 tsp turmeric

• 2 tsp chilli flakes

• 400ml coconut milk

• 800ml vegetable stock

• 300g red lentils

• 100g spinach

• 1 large butternut squash


The Leader:

Pickled Onions

1. Put all the ingredients (except the red onion) into a saucepan and bring to the boil

2. Simmer gently for 5 minutes

3. Remove from the heat and put into a jar or container which will have an airtight lid and allow to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge

4. Once the pickling liquid is cool peel the red onion and slice in half and then cut each half into wedges and split apart the petals

5. Submerge the onions into the pickling liquid and leave to pickle in the fridge for 1 day at least

The Leader:

Spiced Coconut Lentils with Roasted Butternut Squash

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees

2. Peel and roughly chop the butternut squash into large chunks (around 4cm by 4cm)

3. Lay out on a baking tray and drizzle in olive oil and season with salt and pepper

4. Roast in the oven for 25-30mins until golden

5. Whilst the squash in roasting, heat a large pan over a low to medium heat and add a tbsp olive oil

6. Add the onions and garlic and sweat for around 5 minutes until the onions have gone translucent but not brown. If your onions start to brown quickly turn the heat down.

7. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli flakes, mix well into the onions and cook for another 3 minutes

8. Add the stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat down low and simmer for 10 minutes

9. Add the lentils and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the lentils have been cooked, if the mixture starts to look a little dry before the lentils are cooked add a little water

10. Just before serving stir in the spinach to wilt

11. To serve spoon the lentils into a bowl and top with the butternut squash and pickled onions