The day before: make the breadcrumbs.
Cut the sweet peppers lengthwise in half, carefully cutting though the stalk so both halves have an elegant tail, then deseed. Brush inside and out with olive oil. Chop the garlic cloves and distribute equally between the peppers, then
On the day you plan to serve the vegetables:
Peel and trim the tops of all the onions, but leave the root ends intact. Cut the onions lengthwise into slices about 1 cm/½ in thick. Brush a baking tray with olive oil and arrange the slices in it in a single layer. Mix 2 heaped tablespoons of the crumbs with the chopped thyme leaves and the chopped fresh oregano, if using. Sprinkle over the onions.
Cut the aubergines lengthwise into 1 cm/½ in slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and arrange in an oiled baking tray. Mix 2 heaped tablespoons of crumbs with the tapenade and scatter over the top. Do the same for courgettes.
Put both trays to bake for about 1 hour, until the vegetable slices have shrunk by half and the onions are golden brown.
Mix 2 heaped tablespoons of crumbs with the pesto and sprinkle over the tomatoes.
Mix 2 heaped tablespoons of crumbs with the deseeded and diced chilli and sprinkle over the sweet peppers.
Put the tray of tomatoes in the oven to heat through for the last 10 minutes, as the aubergines and onions finish cooking. Preheat the grill.
Just before serving, finish the peppers under the grill for 2-3 minutes, keeping a close watch on the crumbs to prevent them burning.
Transfer all to a serving dish, dress with more oil and serve with warm bread.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.