A tian is a shallow, earthenware baking dish of French origin. The word also refers to the contents of the dish. You can have a tian of lamb. Or a tian of pig. In France, the pig-version is known as “A Tian of Kevin Lee Jacobs.”
Then there is the famous tian of vegetables, where colorful subjects like zucchini, yellow squash, and red potatoes are thinly sliced and arranged in a swirling pattern. Bake these veggies above a bed of caramelized onions and garlic, and below a blanket of Gruyere cheese, and you’ll have a chic and delicious side dish to serve at your next dinner party.
How I make this inexpensive elegance:
No quiche dish for you?
Use a well-seasoned, 8-inch-diameter cast iron skillet. Or, use any 8- or 9-inch baking dish that is only 1-2 inches deep.
Make another circle of veggies in the center of the dish, to fill up any gaps.
Oh. Try to use slices of equal size. If your potato slices are too tall, simply cut off a small portion from their round bottoms. In Beverly Hills, this is known as “cosmetic surgery.” And specifically, a “butt reduction.”
Fortunately, you won’t need a butt-reduction or a tummy-tuck after eating this tantalizing tian. It’s a low-carb dish!
Just be sure to arrange the cut potatoes so the red skin is facing up.
Would you believe that I forgot to take a picture of this next step?
Well, I did.
Here goes: Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and place it onto the center rack of a preheated 400°F for 40 minutes.
Then transfer the dish to your work station, remove the foil, and sprinkle the top with a handful of grated Gruyere cheese. Alternatively, you can use Parmesan, Asiago, or mozzarella cheese, either alone or in combination.
When you serve the dish, be sure to scoop up some of the garlic and caramelized onions that are on the bottom. These contribute a nice degree of sweetness to the savory squash and potatoes.
Easy, easy, easy. Delicious, delicious, delicious. If you don’t make this bit of elegance, I will hold my breath until my face turns blue.
Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:
A Green, Yellow, and Red Vegetable Tian
A traditional French recipe, as made by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for about 6 servings as a side dish
1 generous tablespoon olive oil (plus a little more for brushing the baking dish and drizzling over veggies)
1 generous tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 unpeeled zucchini, approximately 7 inches in length, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 unpeeled yellow squash, approximately 7 inches in length, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 small-to-medium red potatoes (slightly less than 1 pound total), sliced 1/8-inch thick
A generous 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
A handful (about 1/3 cup) shredded Gruyere cheese (or the cheese of your choice)
Special Equipment: an 8- or 9-inch diameter baking dish (or cast-iron skillet), not more than 1-2 inches deep, and lightly greased with olive oil; a sheet of aluminum foil
Center the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Heat the oil and butter over medium heat in a heavy frying pan or electric skillet. When the butter melts, add the minced onion and thyme, and toss to coat. Then lower the heat, cover the skillet, and cook until the onion softens and browns slightly — about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for exactly 1 minute. Tip the mixture into the oiled baking dish, and spread it out evenly.
Arrange, in alternating layers, the green zucchini, yellow squash, and red potatoes in concentric circles above the onion mixture. Drizzle the veggies with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Then cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil, and top the veggies with the shredded cheese. Then return the dish to the oven, uncovered this time, and bake until the potatoes are definitely tender and the cheese has browned — 15-20 minutes.
Serve as an accompaniment to roasted meat or poultry, or alongside a hamburger. Delicious!
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