Monday, August 20, 2012

Tian of Summer Vegetables served two ways

One night it's a glorious side dish...
The next day it's a delicious lunch!  

            With our local farm stands brimming with the most beautiful vegetables, it’s a fun challenge to find ways to eat them every chance we get.  Last week I turned to a tian to make use of some glorious summer squash, zucchini and field tomatoes.  The word “Tian” is French and originally referred to the clay cooking casserole used to prepare this Provencal-style mix of vegetables roasted to perfection au gratin -- covered with a layer of cheese.  Interestingly, the French use the word ‘tian’ to describe not just the vegetable version of the dish but anything layered—even a dessert. And in a wonderful coincidence, “Tian” is also the Chinese word for “Heaven”.  And I have to concur: this is heaven especially when I discovered the leftover Tian created a second meal the next day.

Do whatever you like on top,
but do put onions on the base.
         The recipe for a tian can be varied any way you’d like.  So if you want to make one with other vegetables, say potatoes added to the mix, go right ahead.  But the onion base is pretty well essential.  And although it seems a shame to cover the perfectly beautifully colored rows of sliced vegetables, the cheese gives a flavor kick that I’d miss if I hadn’t put a good layer of grated Parmesan cheese on top.  With the exception of a tablespoon of olive oil, the cheese is the only ingredient that stands between this dish and a fat-free label.  I served my tian with Julia Child’s recipe for Casserole Roasted ChickTarragon, last Wednesday’s post celebrating Julia’s 100th
         The next day, I had about half my tian left over.  So I took a
soft-flour tortilla and made it into a “tostado” by quickly frying it in a little canola oil.  Then, with a large spatula, I lifted the leftover tian in one piece and topped the “tostado”.  Five minutes in the toaster oven and I had a cheese-topped helping of luscious vegetables on a crisp, crunchy tortilla.  Take that, fried Pizza!  This recipe is for eight people.  It’s a very expandable recipe and the size of the dish you use will dictate how many vegetables you need.  

Recipe for a Tian of Summer Squash, Zucchini and Tomatoes au gratin:
2 sweet onions, halved then thin-sliced
2 summer squash about 6 inches long, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 zucchini about 6 inches long, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tbsp, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano Cheese
2 tbsp. fresh Thyme leaves
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.   In a large skillet, cook the onions in 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil until they are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.
3.   Put the cooked onions in the bottom of a greased 9 x 11 casserole dish.  Salt and Pepper the onions generously

4.   In alternating rows, place the slices of summer squash, zucchini and tomatoes atop the onions overlapping as you go along. Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the top of the rows of vegetables.

5.   Cover the vegetables with a layer of Cheese.

6.   Bake for 45 minutes or until the dish is bubbling and the cheese is melted and brown. Serve at once.