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Your make-ahead Italian-inspired menu

Cook to impress with these vegetarian plates, inspired by Italy’s larder and perfect for a spring get-together. Start with a pretty aubergine stack followed by pea and asparagus ravioli and fruity polenta cake for dessert.

  1. Aubergine, tomato and pesto stack

    For a sophisticated starter, try this simple vegetarian stack. Earthy aubergine is layered up with tomato, then garnished with toasted pine nuts, fragrant basil, and a vibrant pesto drizzle for a bit of fresh spring flavour. You can griddle the aubergines up to 24 hours before the meal to get ahead, too.

    Aubergine, tomato and pesto stack
  2. Cheat’s primavera ravioli

    This clever main course uses fresh lasagne sheets to make stuffed ravioli, which can be prepped up to 3 hours before cooking. With seasonal asparagus and light, zesty flavours, it’s sure to impress your guests. Keep a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water on the table as you serve – the natural minerality is a great palate cleanser between courses.

    Cheat’s primavera ravioli
  3. Cherry, lemon and polenta cake

    Switching flour for polenta adds texture to this pretty cake, which will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Full of zesty lemon flavours and sweet cherries, it’s an impressive showstopper finish. Serve gently warmed with a sprinkling of toasted almonds and a dollop of mascarpone, if you like. Tutto bene!

    Cherry, lemon and polenta cake