50 Best Recipe: Massimo Bottura's vegetarian moqueca from Bread Is Gold

Giulia Sgarbi - 21/12/2017

Header: Massimo Bottura cooking at Food for Soul, his book Bread Is Gold (images: Phaidon) and the Refettorio Felix in London (image: Simon Owen)

Chef and campaigner Massimo Bottura is dedicated to fighting food waste with his non-profit Food for Soul initiative, through which he feeds the world’s needy with surplus ingredients. The Italian is now sharing his findings in a book, Bread Is Gold
, which tells the stories of the world-renowned chefs who cooked at his soup kitchens, as well as presenting recipes that transform leftovers into hearty meals.

“A recipe after all is a solution to a problem. Choose to be part of the solution by cooking and sharing a meal around a table. It might be the most revolutionary thing you do all day.” – Massimo Bottura

Bottura’s first soup kitchen, called Refettorio Ambrosiano, opened in 2015 on the occasion of the World Expo in Milan, Italy. The resourceful chef-owner of Osteria Francescana in Modena enlisted some of the best global gastronomic talent – including chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park – to cook free dinners with surplus food from the Expo for the benefit of vulnerable people in the community.

The successful project was replicated in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and Bottura later opened refettorios in London, then Modena, then Bologna. During this time, he collected the recipes that the chefs came up with to make use of waste ingredients.

With insight from René Redzepi, Ana Roš, Alain Ducasse, Alex Atala and many others, Bottura’s latest book makes this invaluable bank of information accessible in the form of Bread Is Gold, published by Phaidon.

Below is the recipe for the vegetarian version of the traditional Brazilian seafood stew, moqueca. The dish was conceived by Bottura and cooks from Gastromotiva, the Brazilian non-profit organization that partnered with the chef to kickstart Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janeiro.

Try it out and let us know what you think!





Serves 6

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon palm oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into medium squares
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into medium squares
1 green bell pepper, cut into medium squares
2 tomatoes, sliced and seeds reserved
2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced
1 eggplant (aubergine), cut into medium cubes
generous 2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk
¾ cup (50 g) chopped parsley
1 malagueta or habanero chili, minced
juice of 1 lime



In a medium frying pan, heat the palm oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, zucchini (courgettes), eggplant (aubergine), and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, chili, and lime juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls.

Now watch Massimo Bottura's speech about Food for Soul at #50BestTalks:

Find out more about Massimo Bottura and the other chef-owners of past and present No.1s in The World's 50 Best Restaurants in our series Best and Beyond, presented by Miele, and discover other recipes in the 50 Best Recipe of the Month series. 

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