Beautiful summer vegetables - heirloom tomatoes, squash, and eggplant, are layered and baked to perfection. This Tomato, Squash, and Eggplant Tian recipe is delicious on a warm evening with some crusty bread and your favorite cheese.
Serve as a veggie side dish for any meat. Just make sure to serve with a chunk of bread to slurp up all the juices and olive oil.
Enjoy summer vegetables
To me, vegetables are my goto ingredients for warm weather meals, substantial but not something that will make me feel full and sluggish. Summer is the peak season to enjoy the variety of bright vegetables. You find them everywhere - in a backyard garden or at the farmer's market. Maybe you are lucky enough to have friends who share their harvest.
So while you are picking up all this fresh, seasonal produce, you need the perfect recipe to showcase the bounty of the season. A way to highlight the vegetables, to celebrate their color and flavor.
What is a tian?
So what exactly is a tian? It is an earthenware dish in which the layered vegetables can be prepared and served from. But a tian is also the actual recipe. Originating in Provence, a tian is a recipe in which vegetables are roasted with an au gratin topping of golden brown bed crumbs. It can be served warm or at room temperature. All the flavors of the vegetables meld together in a harmonious blend along with olive oil and garlic.
A Tomato, Squash, and Eggplant Tian is the perfect way to enjoy the bounty of summer vegetables!
You can use many different vegetables for a tian. This recipe highlights the traditional ingredients used in a Provencal vegetable tian.
Red Bell Peppers
Fresh Bread Crumbs
Salting the vegetables
The first step and one of the keys to a rich and flavorful sauce on the bottom of the baking dish is to salt the vegetables. First, seasoning brings out their natural flavor. But secondly, salting the vegetables helps to eliminate excess moisture. After cutting the vegetables into ¼-inch slices, lay them on a double layer of paper towels.
Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt on top of each slice. Soon you will see moisture beading on the top so you know the salt is doing its job. Let the vegetables remain on the paper towels for about 25 minutes while you prepare the other steps.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
The base of this summer vegetable tian is a roasted red pepper sauce, flavored with garlic and a tinge of lemon. I roast red peppers on a burner with a high flame. Just keep rotating the pepper until the entire surface has been blackened. If you do not have a gas stove, the peppers can always be blackened under a broiler. Wrap the warm peppers in plastic wrap or place in a plastic baggie. The residual heat from the roasting will create steam under the plastic.
Once the peppers have remained in the plastic for 15 minutes, you can easily remove the charred skin. Make sure to remove the seeds and the interior membranes.
Give the peppers a rough chop along with a ¼ cup of sweet onion. Add to a blender with 1 large clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Puree until smooth. Add the roasted pepper sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.
By now the vegetables should have shed a lot of moisture and the paper towels will be wet. The vegetable slices are arranged vertically around the sides of the dish. Squeeze them in so that the slices remain upright. As the vegetables bake they will soften and will collapse if not put in the dish tightly.
Maintain an order in which the slices are arranged - eggplant, squash, tomato - as you add them. As the tian roasts in the oven, the flavors of the vegetables will meld together creating a harmonious blend.
Once all the slices have been added around the sides, you can add more to the center of the dish.
Add slivers of garlic and fresh thyme leaves to the top.
Now add the last few garnishes. Place dollops of goat cheese all around the top and into the slices of the vegetables.
Process fresh bread crumbs with leek slices for a crispy topping on the tian. Add a ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper to the bread crumbs.
Cover the entire surface of the vegetables and goat cheese with the bread crumbs and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the topping.
Bake the tian in two 30-minute segments. Cover the top of the dish with aluminum foil and place it on a sheet tray. Place in a 400-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
After taking the pan out of the oven, remove the foil. The bread crumb topping will start to dry out, and become crispy, and golden brown as the tian bakes for the final 30 minutes.
Rest the tian for 15-20 minutes so that the sauce can thicken a bit. Make this recipe ahead of time - you can always serve this at room temperature. I find it is easiest to use a small spatula to remove a section of the vegetables and fan them on a plate. Don't forget the sauce on the bottom. The roasted red pepper sauce combines with the juices of the salted vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and creamy goat cheese has an incredible depth of flavor. Definitely dippable!
- You can use any combination of vegetables that you prefer - onions, potatoes, or zucchini are popular options.
- Use your favorite cheese. Parmesan, gruyere, or pecorino romano would be delicious.
- You can omit the leeks from the fresh bread crumbs if you prefer.
- Add different herbs - basil, minced rosemary, chives
Serve with any meal
Use this tian for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Once in New York, we ate breakfast at a tiny little French restaurant whose name I will never remember. But I do remember the ratatouille served with over-easy eggs. Serve the tian as a base for an extra special Eggs Benedict.
Need a side dish for a grilled piece of meat or next to a pan-roasted piece of fish? A section of the tian fanned on the plate would be a bright addition to your dinner plate.
I am a sucker for toast. Anything can go on a piece of toast as far as I am concerned. I slather a little goat cheese on the top and add some of the tian for a delicious lunch.
Tomato, Squash, and Eggplant Tian is like summer on a plate. Keep your eye out for some juicy heirloom tomatoes, bright summer squash, or the shiny deep purple of an eggplant. You will have the makings of a delicious and versatile summer vegetable dish.
More flavorful vegetable side dishes - https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/curry-oven-roasted-carrots/
Tomato, Squash, and Eggplant Tian
- 1 baking dish (this recipe filled a 2 quart baking dish)
- food processor
- 2 red bell peppers (18 ounces/263 grams)
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup sweet onion (1.6 ounces/40 grams)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 eggplants (27 ounces/770 grams)
- 2 yellow squash (21 ounces/601 grams)
- 4 heirloom tomatoes (34 ounces/974 grams)
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (2.2 ounces/61 grams)
- ½ cups sliced leeks (1.1 ounce/128 grams)
- 3 ounces goat cheese (84 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Coat a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- To remove excess moisture, the vegetables are salted.
- Cut the tomatoes, squash, and eggplant into ¼-inch slices. Lay the vegetables on a double layer of paper towels. The total amount of salt depends on how many vegetable slices you have but sprinkle a generous pinch of salt on each slice. You should see the surface of the vegetables start to get shiny with moisture. Let the vegetables drain on the paper towels for about 20 minutes.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Roast 2 red peppers. You can put the peppers on top of a burner with the flame on high. Rotate the peppers as they turn black. You want them to be black all over.
- If you do not have a gas stove, cut each pepper into 4 pieces each. Remove the interior membranes and seeds. Place the pieces of peppers flat on a sheet tray. Place the sheet pan as close to the broiler as possible. Remove the tray from the oven as soon as the peppers are black.
- Once the peppers have been blackened, place them in a ziplock bag or cover them in plastic wrap. The peppers will steam once they are enclosed in plastic. After about 15 minutes, you can remove the charred skin from the peppers. Roughly chop the roasted peppers into large pieces.
- Add the roasted pepper pieces, large garlic clove, ¼ cup of roughly chopped sweet onion, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Puree until smooth.
Assemble the Tian
- Pour the roasted red pepper puree into the baking dish.
- The vegetable slices are arranged vertically. Follow a pattern such as tomato, squash, and eggplant so that there is a variety of vegetables in each serving.
- Arrange the vegetables to suit the baking dish you are using. If the pan is oval, you may have a row on either side of the dish. If your pan is round, you may have concentric circles.
- Cut 2 cloves of garlic into slices.
- Once the vegetables are arranged, sprinkle the garlic slices across the top. Add ¼ teaspoon of both salt and ground black pepper to the top of the vegetables. You do not need a lot of salt since the vegetables are already slated.
- Add dollops of goat cheese to the top of the vegetables. Tuck some goat cheese among the slices.
- Combine the bread crumbs and the leek slices in a food processor. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ of ground black pepper. Pulse or chop just until the leeks are in small pieces.
- Sprinkle the leek/breadcrumb mix on top of the vegetables. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil across the bread crumbs.
- Cover the pan with a sheet of foil. Place the pan on a sheet tray and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking the tian for another 30 minutes. The bread crumbs should be browned and crispy.
- Let the tian sit for 10-15 minutes to cool off. Serve as a side dish alongside any kind of meat. Have some bread on hand to soak up the vegetable juices.
- You can also serve the tian on top of toasted bread that is slathered with goat cheese. Add the vegetables on top of the cheese.