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Tian is the word for both the ceramic saucepan in which this dish is cooked and the dish itself. I always think a tian has a mix of tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and sometimes eggplants (like ratatouille), but I think it's because I took my notion of tian from Roger Vergé, the late Provencal chef who popularized the slow-roasted dish . My friend, cookbook author Lucinda Scala Quinn (Mad Hungry) summed up the dish perfectly: She said the best ones should have too much oil, enough salt, and long cooking. In other words, if your veggies melt and border the jam, you've made a good tian.
I'm giving you a rank in the oil. Use the lowest amount and you will get a tasty tian with enough "sauce" to keep the vegetables moist; use the highest amount and you will have enough oil to use as a dump for bread.
This way of cooking makes even less than wonderful vegetables taste good. Since the eggplant will absorb more juice than it will emit, it is good to hold it with tomato slices. It is also good to combine the zucchini and the onion. Use the herbs you have and use them abundantly, and don't be afraid of salt, pepper and garlic. If you have a mandolin (like a Benriner), use it for garlic, it is good to cross off the plate with garlic slices.
A word about the baking pan: I use a 9-inch cake pan to make my tian, but you can use any oven-proof saucepan of a similar size. If you have a bigger or smaller tray, just multiply or divide the recipe, it is completely flexible.
This recipe comes from my latest cookbook, Everyday Dorie (due out October 23). —Dorie Greenspan
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Tian of summer vegetables
to 9 tablespoons (75 ml to 135 ml) of extra virgin olive oil
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon and / or basil
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds
(680 grams) tomatoes
(227 grams) zucchini, green or yellow, scrubbed and trimmed
(113 grams) eggplant, washed and cut
(113 grams) red onion (s)
loaf of bread so good, to serve
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 ° F. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the baking dish, tilting it so that the oil covers the sides. Spread more than half the garlic and a little more than half the herbs and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Slice vegetables: They should be cut about 1⁄4 inch thick. Ideally, they should all be the same size, so if one is particularly large, you may want to cut it in half before you cut it. This is a detail, not a necessity.
Arrange the vegetables on the plate in well-overlapping circles. Try to squeeze the eggplant between tomato slices and make the zucchini and onion curl up together. Keep the circles tight as the vegetables will soften and shrink in the oven. Season generously with salt and pepper, place remaining garlic slices between vegetables, top with remaining herbs, and drizzle as much remaining oil (3 to 7 tablespoons) as desired. Place the tian on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, parchment, or a silicone baking mat. Bake the tian for 70 to 90 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the juices are bubbling.
Serve the tian for a few minutes out of the oven or let it cool to room temperature. Either way, you'll want bread … a lot.
Called "culinary guru" by the New York Times and featured in the James Beard Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, Dorie Greenspan is the author of 13 cookbooks, her latest being Everyday Dorie. Some of his other best-selling cookbooks include Dorie’s Cookies, Baking Chez Moi, Around My French Table, and Baking From My Home to Yours.