Meet the Tian
If you have an abundance of vegetables or are looking for new ways to spice up your vegetable intake, look no further than the tian.
The word tian itself refers to the French word used to describe a Provencal-style of pottery dish used for oven-to-table cooking: all ingredients are baked (or gratinéed) in the dish, then served right to the table. It’s not exactly the same as casserole earthenware (they differ in shape and materials), but it’s similar enough that you can use a casserole dish in place of an actual tian.
And, because vegetables are the primary ingredient cooked in this dish, the so-called tian pottery has become a recipe itself: the Provencal vegetable tian. It transforms any vegetable mix into a gorgeous, artfully-layered concoction of vegetable slices. It’s oftentimes confused with ratatouille, but totally different in the way it’s prepared.
Both ratatouille and tian are excellent ways to share spring, summer, and fall vegetable bounty. But ratatouille is more of a vegetable stew, while the tian is more like a roasted and baked vegetable casserole. Plus, tian is easier to prepare and makes for a stunning presentation.
Perhaps the best part, though, is the simplicity of ingredients. Use whichever vegetables you have on-hand, or go grab handfuls of your favorites at your local farmstand! The vegetables you toss in are totally up to you. The outcome, though, is always the same: an extraordinary blend of chopped, layered, and garden-fresh ingredients baked to perfection.
Most tians incorporate some form of potato into the dish. But for the sake of all our blood sugars, the below recipe uses eggplant instead. If you don’t have eggplant on-hand (or aren’t a fan), throw in another favorite vegetable!
A few other things to think about: the way you layer or stack your vegetables against each other will alter the flavor profile. So if you make the same dish using the vegetables, but layer them differently, you’ll create two dishes entirely. Eggplant and tomato make for nice layer-pairing partners, as do zucchini and onions. Use whatever herbs you have abundantly for decadent aroma and flavor!
Low Carb Vegetable Tian
- 5 to 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 pinches fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 10 sprigs fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, rosemary, and/or tarragon
- 3 large tomatoes, washed
- 3 medium zucchinis, green or yellow, washed and trimmed
- 1 eggplant, washed and trimmed
- 2 red onions
- Slice the vegetables: all should be about ¼-inch or thinner, and roughly the same size so that they cook evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into your baking dish (it can be a tian or any casserole dish), making sure that the oil coats all sides. Scatter over half the garlic and herbs, leaving just enough to sprinkle on the vegetables; season generously with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the vegetables in the dish tightly to create neat layers; if you have the extra time, layer the vegetables so that the eggplants and tomatoes are side by side, and onions and zucchinis are paired. Keep the vegetables tightly pressed, as they will soften and shrink while cooking.
- Tuck your remaining garlic cloves in between the vegetables; sprinkle the remaining herbs and drizzle all the remaining oil over the vegetables. Generously season with salt and pepper.
- Place the dish on a baking sheet lined with foil or a baking mat. Bake for 70-90 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and brown and the juices are bubbling.
- Once out of the oven, wait to cool or serve immediately!