Summer vegetables, Provence style
A tian is an earthenware baking dish used in Provence to create vegetable dishes of all sorts — which are also known as tians. In this recipe, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes combine to produce a succulent late summer dish.
For best results, use a high-quality virgin olive oil, preferably first cold pressed. It’s important to dry the veggies after rinsing them to ensure that they bake rather than steaming. The type of baking dish also matters. If you don’t have an earthenware dish, go for ceramic or glass.
Goat cheese is often added to a tian. If you’d like to try that, intersperse rounds of goat cheese in between the rounds of zucchini and tomato before the final addition of garlic, olive oil and thyme, or grate a harder goat cheese over the top.
1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 large clove garlic or 2 smaller cloves
3 branches fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
4 tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
Rinse and dry the vegetables. Remove the cap from the eggplant, the ends from the zucchini and the stems from the tomatoes. Slice the veggies into thin rounds.
Peel the garlic, slice in half lengthwise and again crosswise. Slice the pieces thinly to create garlic ‘petals’.
Oil a small baking dish, preferably earthenware, ceramic or glass.
Arrange the eggplant rounds over the bottom of the dish. There will be more than one layer — they should fill the bottom half of the dish. Sprinkle with half the garlic petals and about half the thyme leaves. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and grind on some black pepper.
Cover the eggplant with the zucchini and tomatoes, alternating the rounds as shown in the photo. Sprinkle the remaining garlic petals among the rounds. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add salt and grind in more black pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves.
Place in the oven and allow to bake for about 60 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and beginning to brown.
Serve hot or warm. Serves 2.
This recipe is adapted from Petit Larousse des recettes du potager (Editions Larousse, 2008).