I am going to introduce you to my version of a Provençal Tian. I knew you would be impressed!
So, if you are suspecting there might be something FRENCH in the name, you would be absolutely correct. But what exactly is a tian? The word itself means an ovenproof earthenware dish. However, it also is the name of the savory dish cooked in the tian, a dish consisting of layered sliced vegetables. Tian squared, so to speak. You sometimes use a sauce and can add breadcrumbs or grated cheese, au gratin, if you will. One of my favorite potato dishes, dauphinoise, is a tian. Layers of potatoes, cooked in garlicky cream.
Today, we are talking about a Provençal vegetable tian, or the famous ratatouille made in the eponymous Pixar film. It is a classic French recipe, using the vegetables grown in the south of France, elevated to a dinner party worthy dish with some very clever, but super easy, presentation.
This dish is easy to scale up. I am giving quantities for three to four people, but this works well with a larger casserole dish and more ingredients. And for some reason, I have added potatoes into the mix. Now that I see the original recipe does not have them (you know about my potato obsession?), feel free to omit them.
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Tin of diced tomatoes
- lug of olive oil
- salt and pepper
Or some lovely good quality bought tomato sauce.
- Yellow squash and/or zucchini, topped and tailed
- Small eggplant (aubergine), topped and tailed
- Two or three small tomatoes
- Three small potatoes
- Grated cheddar or gruyere
- Fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375f
First, choose your tian. Mine comes from Ikea!
Add the olive oil to a small pan, and sauté the onion for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Tip the the tomatoes into the pan, and, using the tin, add a third of a tin of water and a little salt and pepper. Cook gently for a further ten minutes.
Cover the base of your tian with a layer of tomato sauce. Slice all the vegetables into ¼ inch rounds. Then layer upright, alternating in the same order, around the edge of the dish. Fill the center too, and push any extra vegetables in to fill up any gaps. Drizzle with a little more oil and add salt and pepper. Cover with foil for the first half hour.
The time taken to cook this will depend on how much of it you are cooking.
I usually set the timer for 30 mins and then take a look. The main vegetable to check is the potatoes, as they need to be fully cooked, so prod with a sharp knife to see how they are coming along. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, the other vegetables should be done too. Add the cheese and breadcrumbs for the final ten minutes of cooking, or when everything seems to be almost ready. Garnish with basil.
Eh voilà. Bon Appétit!