I know, more zucchini and tomatoes. Just what you needed, right? The cooler breezes and necessary wooly sweaters at night are hinting at autumn’s arrival (and I’m so, so excited about that), but summer vegetables are still plentiful in the veggie gardens and at farmer’s markets. I would call this tian a transitional dish of sorts. The vegetables are sunny and new, but the slow cooking method makes it hearty and warming.
It’s so impressive looking, while the flavours are comforting and appealing to almost anyone. Also, casually mentioning that it’s a provencal kind of thing will put you into too-cool territory, guaranteed. Most of the work is in the assembly, then you push it into the oven and get on with the rest of your things for an hour or so. It takes a little while, but the results are so worth it. The smell of thyme, garlic and tomatoes bubbling away while some cool, late summer breezes float in is cozy and homey. Maybe you’ll want to eat this outside with some warm barley, greens and a glass of wine (like me!). And maybe you could enjoy it with a warm knobby blanket hanging over your lap, perhaps with someone you like… seriously, I always get sentimental this time of year.
summer vegetable tian
special equipment: A mandoline makes quick work of the zucchini and potatoes, but isn’t necessary.
notes: Sometimes eggplant is featured in this particular dish. If you have some smaller, Japanese eggplant, they would go really well in here. A little parmesan or pecorino grated on top of this would be yummy too.
1 medium onion, cut into thin slices
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
6 sprigs of thyme
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
5-6 small new potatoes, sliced into slightly thinner than 1/4 inch thick rounds
7-8 small-medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium saute pan over medium. Add the onions and 3 whole sprigs of thyme. Stir them up or flip them around occasionally until the onions are soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and garlic loses its raw-ness, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove mixture from the heat and set aside. Remove any twig-y bits left behind from the thyme sprigs.
Grease a 2 quart baking dish with some of the olive oil. Place the sauteed garlic and onions on the bottom of the dish. Layer the zucchini, potato and tomato slices in the pan in rows or circles, whatever works for you. Arrange them around until the dish is full (there might be leftover slices of vegetables). Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top. Remove the leaves from the remaining 3 thyme sprigs and scatter them around the surface. season with salt and pepper and cover with foil.
Bake for half an hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. This would be the point to add some parm or pecorino if you’re feeling that. Once the veggies are all soft and a bit browned on top, it’s ready. Serve immediately.