Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer Vegetable Tian !

   It's the end of summer and I just realized that I haven't made one of my favorite summer French vegetable dishes...a vegetable tian !When I think of this tian, I am reminded of taking French classes when I lived in Santa Barbara, California. After each class ended for the term, my French teacher Carla, would guide us in planning a potluck French dinner. She would ask us what we would like to bring, and each one of us would tell her what we were going to bring in French. One of my fellow classmates brought this fabulous tian to one of the parties. Several of us expressed our delight in this dish, and she said that she found the recipe in Ina Garten's lovely cookbook called Barefoot in Paris.          

     There is still time to run to the farmer's market to select some beautiful tomatoes and zucchini squash ! My favorite tomatoes are Heirloom with the red bottoms and the green stripes on top. My farmer friend Rocio, grows the most scrumptious  Heirloom and other vine-ripened tomatoes ever, selling them at the Vineyard Framer's Market, in this hot San Juaquin valley where I live ! Add some onions, garlic, potatoes, fresh thyme, and some Gruyere cheese....you've got it made in the shade !

 Tians originated in Provence, France....usually consisting of vegetables, herbs, and cheeses that are layered together and then baked. A tian is a French word that depicts a shallow earthenware casserole, and the food it contains. This is an excellent  comforting dish to serve alongside meat, as a vegetarian entree, or as a brunch or lunch casserole.  It would also be delicious made with fall and winter vegetables when summer time has gone bye bye. When I was visiting with my folks in San Diego, we ate this tian  on a balmy day outside for breakfast. I have also brought it to share at Oneg (Dinner delight) after our Messianic Jewish Shabbat service. Choose tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes that are about the same diameter, so that the slices look more or less uniform and that they bake at the same time.
                                                        Ina Garten's Vegetable Tian

Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled (Don't use old potatoes...they taste old !)
3/4 pound zucchini
1-1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

   Brush a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

   Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until browned. Lay some fresh thyme sprigs on top. I like to taste the dish to see if it needs additional salt, pepper, or thyme leaves.  Serve warm. I enjoy eating this delicious dish the next 2-3 days, reheated. A little water added to the dish might help to moisten it.

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