A Summer Vegetable Tian (aka: Casserole!)
The Perfect recipe for using up summer vegetables!
Do you have only one zucchini, one small eggplant and a tomato? Then you can make a delicious summer vegetable tian for dinner tonight. Yes, this is the perfect side-dish recipe for using up those summer veggies that are too small to cook up by themselves. The best part is, this casserole is probably the most versatile and easy way to use up a variety of veggies that might otherwise find themselves in the compost pile.
I was so excited when I was browsing Pinterest and found a recipe pinned by my sister-in-law that would use up a few of my odd number of summer vegetables to perfection! Finding a tian recipe saved my day! I could use those tiny babies in one dish that was very satisfying, to say the least.
My garden this year was not so great, but it did produce a small crop of zucchini, a few small eggplants and some mediocre tomatoes. That does happen some times, even in the warm and sunny southern USA. Actually, this crop was so small because this summer was not so warm and sunny. In fact, it was wet and cloudy with mild temperatures. Those are not the best conditions for a bumper crop. In fact, this was the worst year for tomatoes--ever. Not one of my plants produced a tomato that was worthy of sandwich status. My zucchini plant only produced one each week and the eggplants were very small and ripened weeks apart.
I adapted one of the recipes on Pinterest with one from Ina Garten to come up with my simple and delicious summer side-dish recipe that you will find below.
All images are mine. Use with attribution.
Vegetable Tian by Mickie Goad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
What is a "tian"?
A Provenal-style baked dish made with a mix of vegetables, roasted in a gratin (melted cheese) style. The term can also be used to describe any type of casserole-style course, from a braised vegetable stew to a layered dessert.
I use the term "tian" because my husband won't eat casseroles! He is a casserole snob.
Corningware French White Casserole dish for a Vegetable Tian - Appropriate because of the Provenal connection!
My daughter gave me a complete set of the Corningware French White baking dishes one year for Christmas. The set included all the lids for each dish. The set also came with plastic covers for each size so I could freeze dishes or store leftovers in the refrigerator. This is a classic design and every cook should have at least one of these French White bakeware dishes.
This is my casserole dish. Very versatile size and shape. Mine came with a plastic cover that I use if there are leftovers to be kept in the fridge.
The original vegetable tian recipe that inspired my own creation was found on the I Believe I Can Fry blog. Then I found an equally wonderful recipe in my favorite cookbook, (click to purchase this great cookbook, if you like) by Ina Garten. Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home
Ms. Garten used Gruyere cheese in her tian recipe. I used the white cheddar by accident, thinking it was parmesan. It was a lucky mistake. I used parmesan on another tian and did not like the way it turned out. I will be trying the Gruyere in the future even though it is a tad expensive.
Both of the model recipes used a potato in addition to the squashes, eggplants and etc..., but I did not have one on hand so subtracted it from the ingredient list. In my opinion, my recipe turned out just fine!
Prep Time: 30
Total Time: A bit over one hour and a half
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large tomato
- 1/2 large sweet onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme OR
- italian seasonings to taste
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar
- Slice the zucchini, eggplant and tomato thinly (1/4 inch at most). Sprinkle all lightly with salt. Put the zucchini and eggplant in a colander and place a bowl on top for pressure. There is a photo in the gallery below to show you what I mean. Allow to drain in the sink for 15-20 minutes. Put the thinly sliced tomatoes on a paper towel to drain while the other two are draining. Doing so will result in less liquid in the finished casserole.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- While the veggies drain and the oven heats, finely chop the onion and garlic and saut in a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until transparent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Spray a casserole dish with a product like Pam. My casserole dish size was 1 1/2 quart (1.4 L).
- Spread the onions and garlic on the bottom of the casserole dish. Vertically layer your vegetables (standing on their side) in the dish (see the photo in the gallery below). Sprinkle on your herbs. Cover with aluminum foil or the glass lid of your dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil or lid and top with shredded cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until the cheese is golden brown.
Picture this: How to make a Vegetable Tian-- - Tian is another word for "casserole"Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cookbooks from Ina Garten - I have three! Including the one with the tian recipe!
Ina Garten is my favorite cookbook author. Her recipes are easy to make and are classics that will be used over and over. In her books, Ms. Garten also includes ideas and suggestions for parties and family dinners. In many of her books, she even shares ideas for what flowers to use in a centerpiece. Sure, you might not have those exact flowers, but the ideas can be adapted to what you do have. Just like her tian recipe, I adapted it to something very easy.
I wanted this cookbook because it has a recipe for a coconut cake!
This is the cookbook with the vegetable tian recipe that I used as a reference for mine.
This cookbook has a delicious mac and cheese casserole recipe.
We all have our favorite summer vegetables. I love a wonderfully ripe tomato, nice small yellow squash and zucchini and glossy eggplants. All of these would be ripe for use in a casserole. When I happen to have a potato, it might find its way into the tian.
Which ingredients would you use? You can leave any of them out and not have a bad side-dish. Use your favorite cheese if you like, too.