I love summer vegetables – tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, corn. One of the benefits of living in Hawaii is the year-round growing season but maybe it’s because I lived in the northeast for so long that I still associate certain vegetables with certain times of the year. Regardless of where I am, this recipe is a great way to highlight the abundance of vegetables available at this time of the year.
What is a tian?
A tian is a vegetable gratin from the Provence region of France. It also refers to the earthenware dish in which it is baked. Typically in the United States we think of a gratin being a heavier winter dish with potatoes being the vehicle for heavy cream and cheese. This dish is just the opposite, where the vegetables are the stars, highlighted with fresh herbs, olive oil, and a light sprinkling of cheese.
What vegetables can be used in a tian?
For this dish I use summer classics – zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and thyme. I use Japanese eggplant which are more readily available in Hawaii but are also similar in size and shape to zucchini. The same goes for the sweet Italian peppers we have growing in the garden – they are also similar in size and shape to the other vegetables. I prefer to use Roma tomatoes as they are firmer and less watery.
How to prepare the tian
The vegetables are uniformly sliced (or as close as I can get them). I then make stacks of alternating vegetable slices. I find it makes it easier to assemble the final dish.
The vegetable stacks are laid on their sides and arranged in a concentric pattern in the casserole dish. With a light topping of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves, it’s ready to bake.
Served warm or at room temperature, this tian makes a great side dish. It also makes a light main course, served with crusty bread and a green salad.Print
You may not want to use the oven in the middle of the summer heat but if you do, this is a beautiful way to highlight all of the wonderful produce you can find in your own garden or at your local farmer’s market. Don’t limit yourself to these vegetables, use whatever is fresh, whatever you like.
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers, or to taste (optional)
1 medium Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced (1/4″ slices)
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (1/4″ slices)
4 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (1/4″ slices)
2 medium Italian sweet peppers, thinly sliced (1/4″ slices)
3 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Coat a 1½-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with crushed red peppers.
Prepare stacks of vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and pepper. This will make arranging the vegetables in the casserole dish easier.
Starting on the outer edge of the dish, arrange the stacks on their sides, working concentrically toward the center. If you have any leftover vegetables, tuck them into any gaps.
Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves, and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Cover vegetables with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese while the vegetables are still hot.
Serve with more cheese.
This is a very flexible dish and easily scalable. Feel free to swap out or add vegetables of your choosing and make this dish your own. If you can’t find Italian sweet peppers, use a medium red, orange, or yellow bell pepper. Use a yellow summer squash instead of a zucchini. You just want to be sure to cut the vegetables in similar sizes so they cook evenly.
I use a good jarred marinara sauce but feel free to use your own homemade sauce if you have it on hand.
You can also change up the seasoning by using different herbs or even a spice mix like herbes de Provence or zata’ar.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Category: Vegetables
- Cuisine: French
- Calories: 162.05
- Sugar: 7.39 g.
- Sodium: 269.43 mg.
- Fat: 12.13 g.
- Saturated Fat: 2.16 g.
- Carbohydrates: 12.25 g.
- Fiber: 4.48 g.
- Protein: 3.7 g.
- Cholesterol: 3.26 g.
Keywords: vegetables, summer