vegetable tian and my herb garden

I recently moved into a new apartment, and one of my favorite things about this space is the backyard/porch/patio area.  When the weather is fine, there’s nothing nicer than sitting back there with a glass of wine and a book.  There’s a curious cat family next door and some friendly squirrels who stop by every once in a while when we offer them almonds.

It’s also nice because I finally have a place outside to keep a little herb garden.  I’ve got lavender, mint, parsley, basil, rosemary, and jasmine on hand for whatever I whip up.  It feels good to say goodbye to dried herbs, and my cooking has definitely benefited.

flowering basil

I decided to whip up something using some of these fragrant plants this afternoon, settling on this light summery dish.  Tians are a classic of provençal cuisine that traditionally makes use of fresh, seasonal vegetables, so when my local grocer started setting out the Chinese eggplant last week, I knew it was fate.  The zucchini and eggplant are almost the same diameter, so it makes for easy stacking as well!

the finished tian

Vegetable Tian (adapted from Mimi Thorisson)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 zucchini
  • 3 Chinese eggplant
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • a few shakes of dried thyme
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice all vegetables into thin circles.  I used a mandolin for the zucchini but had to use a knife for the eggplant and tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let sit for 20 min, letting the water get absorbed.  Then rinse off salt and pat dry.
  4. Cover the bottom of a large baking tray with 1 tbs olive oil and half the garlic.
  5. Stack the vegetable slices in an alternating pattern until the dish is filled.
  6. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil and garlic, as well as the thyme, basil, salt and pepper over the veggies.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately with crusty bread and a full glass of wine!
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