Layered with ripe tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and heaps of herbs de Provence, this Summer Vegetable Tian tastes fresh and colourful. It’s the perfect side-dish to any summer table.
When looking for a fresh vegetable recipe, I know that Provençal cookbooks will usually satisfy my craving. Provencal recipes are known for vibrant colours and flavours, and an utter respect for seasonal produce. I enjoy how the goal of their cuisine is to simply let sun-kissed vegetables and herbs do all the talking – in a very unsophisticated manner.
This Summer Vegetable Tian is a perfect example.
The Provencal-French dictionary by Joseph-Toussaint Avril describes a Tian as “a kind of lean-stew, typically prepared in households and baked in the oven in a terrine dish or pottery clay pot.” A Tian is also the name given to the traditional vessel of Provence used for cooking this dish – an earthenware, wide-rimed pot.Though it is referred to as a stew, the particularity of cooking a Tian is to add no liquid. The layered ingredients are meant to cook all together until their liquid has evaporated and their edges get crispy – giving it more of a gratin-feel, than a stew.
This Summer vegetable Tian is so simple yet so flavorful, and a perfect way to make use of garden-fresh tomatoes and zucchinis.
Some traditional Provençal recipes like to add chunks of strong-flavoured meats such as lamb or goat, or salty fishes such as sardines and anchovies. And for some extra texture and flavor, you can also add breadcrumbs and grated cheese on top.
Summer Vegetable Tian from ProvencePrint This
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 medium, ripe tomatoes
1 medium zucchini
½ medium eggplant
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2 dried bay leaves
3 sprigs dried thyme
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté both in a skillet with ½ tablespoon olive oil until softened and golden.
While the onion and garlic are sautéing, thinly slice the rest of the vegetables.
Coat the inside of an 8×8 square or round baking dish with ½ tablespoon of olive oil.
Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Insert the bay leaves between the vegetable slices – at two random but distant places.
Drizzle the vegetables with the rest of the olive oil (½ tablespoon). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried oregano, hot pepper flakes and lastly, 2-3 sprigs of thyme.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the vegetable edges crisp up and turn brown.