Summer Squash

Tian Provençal

October 18, 2021
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Photo by Annie Falk
Author Notes

The challenge—slicing the vegetables quite thin, by hand, so that they are all precisely the same size, and arranging them in careful layers, over sweet, tender caramelized onions. Then, drenching the summer vegetables in an aromatic, fruity olive oil and covering them in fragrant garlic and Herbes de Provence—a method that insures the perfect melding of the earthy zucchini, sun-sweetened tomatoes, and summer-ripened aubergine—the great achievement of a well-made tian. —Annie Falk

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 medium-sized sweet onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large yellow summer zucchini
  • 1 large green zucchini
  • 1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise
  • 1 large tomatoes, cored, halved lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over low heat and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the onions slowly over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, and scraping up the sticky “fond” that builds up on the bottom of the pan, stirring it into the onions. Cook until onions are soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  3. While the onions cook, slice the zucchinis, eggplant, and tomatoes on a Japanese mandolin (or by hand) into 1/4-inch-thick disks. Spread the caramelized onions across the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  4. Arrange the zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes in alternating rows: Start by making a row of overlapping yellow zucchini slices, standing them vertically on edge. Follow with a row of eggplant, then a row of green zucchini, then tomatoes in the same manner, packing the rows tightly together in a circular arrangement around the dish. Continue until the baking dish is filled. Sprinkle the surface of the vegetables generously with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and then drizzle half the olive oil over the top, soaking the vegetables completely.
  5. Dust the vegetables with the Herbes de Provence, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place fresh thyme on top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the foil, allowing the vegetables to roast and caramelize, about another 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the tian to cool. Serve in the baking dish, at room temperature.
  7. Note: In Provence, we caramelized our onions in a beautiful oven proof skillet, then layered our vegetables over the top and put the skillet in the oven. When the tian cooled, we would slip a beautiful potholder over the handle and place the dish on top of a trivet at the table—a charming Provençal touch. Vergé loved to serve in the same vessels he cooked in, retaining all the flavors and juices of each well-seasoned dish.

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