Red pepper bake with aubergine and olive ratatouille and aubergine parmigiana

Try making a vegetarian MasterChef recipe packed full of Mediterranean flavour.

Equipment and preparation: You’ll need 6 dariole moulds greased with butter and 6 x 6cm/2½in chef’s rings.


For the pepper bake
For the ratatouille
For the aubergine parmigiana
For the pesto
To serve

Preparation method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350F/Gas 4.

  2. For the pepper bake, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the shallot and peppers for 30 minutes, or until soft, adding a little water if the mixture becomes too dry. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the thyme leaves and set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth then pass through a fine sieve.

  3. Whisk the eggs, parmesan, cream, and pepper purée together in a bowl until well combined.

  4. Blanch the cabbage leaves for two minutes in boiling water, then refresh in iced water. Pat dry on a clean tea towel.

  5. Line the dariole moulds with the cabbage leaves and fill with the pepper mixture until two-thirds full. Seal with the cabbage leaves to make a parcel and cover the top of each parcel loosely with aluminium foil. Place the moulds into a roasting tin and pour in enough hot water to fill halfway up the sides of the dariole moulds. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the parcels are firm and bouncy to the touch. Remove the tray from the oven, then remove the dariole moulds and keep warm.

  6. Meanwhile, for the ratatouille, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine and garlic until golden-brown. Add the olives and basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  7. For the aubergine parmigiana, slice the aubergines into ½cm/¼in thick slices, and then sprinkle with salt and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

  8. Fill a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan two-thirds full with vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 180C/350F (use a probe thermometer to check the temperature if you're not using a deep-fat fryer). (CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Don't leave unattended)

  9. Pat the aubergines dry and deep-fry in the oil for 1-2 minutes (you may need to do this in batches). Remove the aubergines from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

  10. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Stir in the basil.

  11. Place the chef’s rings onto a non-stick baking tray. Layer the aubergine slices, mozzarella, tomato sauce and parmesan inside the rings until full. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden-brown. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

  12. For the pesto, blend all of the ingredients in a small food processor until smooth.

  13. To serve, carefully remove the pepper bakes from the dariole moulds and place onto serving plates. Remove the aubergine parmigiana from the chef’s rings and place alongside the pepper bakes, then spoon on some ratatouille. Garnish with the tomberries, cress and pea shoots then drizzle over the pesto.

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