For the dressing, lightly cook the shallot and
garlic in 4 tbsp of the olive oil, without allowing
them to colour. Add the red peppers, bay leaf and
thyme and gently simmer for a further 5 mins
until the peppers have softened. remove from the
heat, stir in the sugar with the remaining 5 tbsp
oil and transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and
pepper. Leave to infuse until needed.
Finely shred and chill the spring onions. Slice the runner beans into long, thin
strips. cook the beans briefly in boiling salted water
until just softened. drain and cool. Fry the bread in
4 tbsp of oil until lightly golden and crispy, add a
knob of butter and toss. drain on kitchen paper
and season well. Can be done up to 2 hrs ahead.
Peel courgettes into long strips.
Just before assembling (if serving warm), heat
a frying pan with the remaining tbsp olive oil and
knob of butter. Briefly stir-fry the green peppers
until beginning to soften. Add the beans, toss to
warm through, tip out into a bowl and season. If
serving cold, this can be done up to 1 hr ahead.
Now finish it in style. Arrange some of the veg over a large platter.
Scatter the courgettes, spring onions, basil leaves,
baby spinach and bread croûtons in a casual
arrangement over and among the vegetables,
along with the remaining veg. Spoon enough
of the dressing across the top to moisten, then
finish with parmesan shavings. Serve any extra