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Melissa Thompson’s Peanut Squash Stew

Welcome to City Harvest Cooking with Melissa Thompson

City Harvest Cooking is a series where guest chefs and cooks join City Harvest in its London food rescue warehouse to create amazing dishes from surplus food. It’s all about being resourceful and getting creative with whatever might be in City Harvest’s food redistribution depot on the day of cooking. The beauty of food redistribution is its unpredictability, although having a network of fresh produce suppliers means that we often see seasonal goods come through our depot doors.

The third chef in our first series of City Harvest Cooking is cook, food writer and author Melissa Thompson. In 2014 Melissa started a sell-out supper club that grew into a pop-up serving across London. In 2022 her debut cookbook, Motherland, was published celebrating the food and history of Jamaica. For us, Melissa’s role in advocacy and her resourceful and no-waste approach to cookery meant it was a no-brainer to involve her in City Harvest Cooking! 

In Melissa’s first City Harvest Cooking episode, she’s inspired by flavours of West Africa. In her version of peanut or groundnut stew, Melissa fills this hearty and veg-filled stew with surplus squash and other fresh produce from City Harvest’s food rescue warehouse. The stew is complemented  by a handful of pantry ingredients including the incredibly versatile peanut butter! Recreate this delicious dish at home using the recipe below.

Author, food writer and cook, Melissa Thompson at City Harvest London food charity

“I spent the day cooking at City Harvest HQ, having gone to a food bank in the morning and just getting an idea of what City Harvest do, how they rescue surplus food and then redistribute it to organisation & other charities. My mind has been blown, it’s an incredible operation.:

Ingredients  (serves 4-6)

Prep time: 20 mins, cooking time: 40 mins, total 1 hour.


  • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 4 tbsp mild curry paste
  • 1 tbsp neutral or mild olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped/minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste / puree
  • 100g crispy fried onions (or 1 large fresh onion)
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced (with or without seeds)
  • 1 aubergine, diced with skin left on
  • 300g potatoes, diced with skin left on
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (recipe used yellow but any colour can be used – preferably yellow or red for sweetness)
  • 5 salad or large plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter – crunchy or smooth
  • 200g green beans, topped and cut in half
  • 750 ml – 1 litre boiling water 
  1. Peel, de-seed and chop your butternut squash or pumpkin carefully and dice it into bitesize chunks.
  2. In a microwave-proof bowl (ideally glass or robust plastic), add your squash cubes and 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste. Give the squash a mix so the curry paste is roughly covering all the pieces.
  3. Cook the squash in the microwave for a few minutes at a time and test it with a fork after each round. Cook until tender but not completely soft as it will finish cooking in the stew.
  4. While the squash softens in the microwave: In a deep, wide frying pan, or a Dutch pot, warm the tbsp oil and add the minced garlic and ginger paste and simmer until aromatic. Be careful not to burn the garlic by keeping the heat on low-medium.
  5. Add the crispy fried onion. These are being used in place of fresh onion which I couldn’t find – they make a really great fast-track solution as they’re already fried, sweet and full of flavour!
  6. Simmer these ingredients together before adding the diced aubergine.
  7. Add another 2 tbsp curry paste to the pan and mix gently so all the aubergine is well-coated with the paste.
  8. Chop the potatoes and yellow bell pepper and add to the vegetables in the pan. Continue to fry on a low-medium heat.
  9. Add 1 finely chopped red chilli to the vegetables (keep the seeds in for heat, or remove for more gentle warmth)
  10. Add the microwaved squash to the pan with the rest of the veg and stir gently.
  11. Add approximately 250 ml of boiling water to the sautéing vegetables and allow it to simmer.
  12. With the remaining 500 ml boiling water create a slurry with the peanut butter. Do this by gently whisking 4-5 tablespoons of peanut butter into the boiling water until it becomes creamy and pourable. This will stop the peanut butter from forming lumps in the stew!
  13. Pour the slurry into the stew mixture in the pan and use extra boiling water to get the last dregs of the slurry from your jug. This will be the liquid you use to add to the stew intermittently.
  14. Wash and chop green beans in half and add them to the nearly cooked stew. Continue to stir and add water where needed. Once the stew is thickened, and aromatic and all the vegetable is cooked until tender, serve into bowls and enjoy with rice.
  15. Garnish with fresh herbs of your choice. We’ve used chopped chives in this recipe!

    “I think it’s really important to support City Harvest because it’s combating food waste and its repurposing food to give access or to give people who need it access to nutritious, fresh and tasty food.”

    Enjoy this recipe?

    Our recipe page hosts a variety of recipes from chefs, food partners, supporters and our charity community. If you enjoyed making this recipe, check out some more.