Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription
Rustic Summer Tian
Tian, another splendid dish from Provence, is a colorful medley of sliced summer veggies, cooked to melt-in-your-mouth tenderness over a zesty, chunky tomato-pepper sauce.
My plant-based no-oil version begins on the stovetop to tenderize the vegetables and finishes in a hot oven to lightly crisp up the top. I sliced the vegetables thicker to allow each veggie’s flavor to shine in the finished dish.
Tian’s fiber will fill you up yet with negligible calories, but to make this a meal, I love to eat it with crusty whole wheat crostini, rubbed with garlic and strewn with fresh thyme, to sop up all the delectable juices. Or you can serve it with any whole grain or potato. Tian is a beautiful way to celebrate summer’s bounty, served as an elegant appetizer, a festive side dish, or playing the starring role on the dinner plate.
Prep time 40 minutes Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes Makes one 10” tian that makes 3-5 main or 8-12 appetizer servings
1 full cup onions, medium dice
Dry vermouth, dry white wine, or no-sodium veggie broth to deglaze pan
4 cloves garlic, minced
Fistful of basil leaves, cut chiffonade (in narrow ribbons)
1 pound mini bell peppers, cored, roasted, large dice
2 cups good quality canned whole tomatoes
½ - 1 teaspoon, ground mild chili like Espelette, Aleppo, or Kashmiri peppers, or to taste
2 teaspoons asa (red) miso, or to taste •
2-3 small Italian eggplants, stemmed, sliced in ¼” rounds
2 medium yellow squash, stemmed, sliced in ¼” rounds
2 medium zucchini, stemmed, sliced in ¼” rounds
4-5 medium ripe tomatoes, stemmed, sliced in ¼” rounds
3-4 medium onions, peeled, sliced in ¼” rounds
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, émincé (thinly sliced)
1 ½ -2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons dried Herbes de Province OR 5-6 Tablespoons of your own mix of fresh herbs (including any combo of rosemary, thyme, summer savory, parsley, tarragon, pinch of lavender)
Fresh grinds of black pepper
- Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower blood pressure (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension.)
Hint: Choose similarly sized vegetables.
Hint: Commercial whole wheat crumbs or whole panko are fine but to take it up a notch, toast your own whole wheat artisanal bread, rub with garlic, season with dried herbs and pepper, then throw in a food processor until you have medium fine uniform crumbs. Keep extra in the fridge.
If you have a stovetop-to-oven lidded skillet or sauté pan or a seasoned clay cazuela, tian is a one-pot meal, braised covered over a flame, then finished uncovered in the oven. If not, then compose the tian in a round baking dish, place it in a larger steaming basket to steam before transferring it to the oven. Whatever you make it in, choose a pan or dish that can contain a fair amount of juice produced by the veggies as they cook. This flavorful liquid will reduce in the oven, concentrating its flavors and mixing with the sauce, before solidifying as the tian cools.
Heat oven to 400°F/204°C. Place cored mini peppers on a sheet lined with parchment and dry roast for 30 minutes or until lightly toasted and collapsing. Cool slightly and cut (large dice).
Heat a sauté pan for 3 minutes. Dry sauté onion, stirring until it sweats its liquid and begins to carmelize the bottom on the pan. Deglaze with a few tablespoons of wine or broth. Stir in garlic, and after a minute add the canned tomatoes, mashing them crudely with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the roasted peppers.
Cook for an addition few minutes to blend flavors, then season with miso, if using. Stir in the basil. Taste to correct seasonings as you like. Set aside.
Compose the Tian
Preheat oven to 450°F/232°C
In your baking dish/skillet spoon in a nice base layer of the tomato-pepper sauce, about ¾” deep. Generously sprinkle breadcrumbs over the sauce.
Alternating vegetables, stack them horizontally, on edge, and place along the dish’s perimeter, filling it tightly as the vegetables will shrink as the cook. Depending on the diameter of the vegetables, you may get two or possibly three rings of stacked veggies. Stud the veggies with slivers of the garlic.
Simmer on the stovetop for ½ hour, checking that the sauce hasn’t dried out. Add a little water, if needed. If using a steamer, steam for ½ hour. A fork should easily penetrate the eggplant now. If not, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes and retest.
Place your pan or dish on a rimmed cookie sheet now, to catch any drippings in the oven. Grind pepper on top, sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs and your herb blend. Bake, uncovered, for about ½ hour or until the veggies have begun to crisp up on top.
Remove to a cooling rack to cool partially and allow the juices to recede and congeal.
Serve with whole wheat artisanal toasted slices that you’ve rubbed with raw garlic, peppered, and decorated with fresh thyme (or another herb) leaves, dishing out a nice portion of stacked tian and its sauce.