A show-stopper dish that goes from oven to table, filled with late summer produce, herbs and flavorful Manchego cheese.Jump to Recipe
So what exactly is a “Tian”? Tian is the word for both the pottery vessel in which this dish is baked AND the dish itself. A tian is a classic preparation from Provence in the south of France consisting of a melody of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, zucchini and eggplant artistically layered together with herbs and plenty of olive oil. The best tian should have plenty of olive oil, generous salt and enough time in the oven for it all to start to melt together. It is a gardener’s dream dish in late summer when the tomatoes and squash are ripe and taking over!
I am proud to say that all of these gorgeous veggies (minus the onion and garlic) came from my garden! Putting together a vegetable tian felt like the perfect way to honor them and their garden-fresh flavor. You really could use any herbs you like, but I had generous amounts of mint, thyme, basil, tarragon, parsley and rosemary at the ready.
My “tian” is a 10-inch oven-safe pottery dish which is deep enough to allow plenty of space for the vegetables and the bubbly juices that they produce. Really good olive oil is key for creating a nice “sauce” in this recipe.
Placing some of the herbs and garlic at the bottom of the dish allows them to really infuse the olive oil.
The fun part of this recipe (after doing all of the cutting work!) is creating beautiful spirals of vegetables. I like to place tomato slices near eggplant so that the juices the tomatoes give off can be absorbed by the little eggplant “sponges”.
More herbs, oil and garlic go on the top to infuse flavor from the top down.
After a generous cooking time (and a sprinkle of cheese if you desire), the garden vegetable tian is a work of art and can go straight from oven to table. This is also a wonderfully easy dish to transport to a dinner party or picnic.
I opted for The Hilt Estate Pinot Noir to serve with this garden vegetable tian. This wine is produced from Hilt Estate vineyards in the Sea. Rita Hills appellation on California’s Central Coast. The wine is lush and savory with hints of blood orange, dark cherry and sun-dried herbs. The acidity and gentle tannins make for a vibrant and very food-friendly wine.
Garden Vegetable Tian
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Dozen fresh herb sprigs, such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint and basil
- 2 pounds fresh slicing tomatoes
- 2 pounds zucchini
- 1 pound eggplant
- 1 or 2 red onions
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Grated Gruyere, Manchego or other semi-soft flavorful cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°. Add about 4 tablespoons olive oil to an ovenproof round casserole dish of at least 10-inch diameter (can also use a 13×9-inch baking dish). Sprinkle half of the garlic over the oil and about half of the herb sprigs. Slice the tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and onion into ¼-inch thick circles (try to select vegetables of roughly the same diameter, or halve the rounds if needed). Arrange the vegetables in the dish in tightly overlapping circles, as they will shrink while baking. Sprinkle on remaining garlic, season generously with salt and pepper and lay remaining herb sprigs over top, tucking into the vegetables. Drizzle about ½ cup olive oil over top (this helps create a “sauce” with the vegetable juices).
- Bake the tian for about 75 minutes until starting to bubble and vegetables are getting very soft. Add about ½ cup grated cheese sprinkled over top of vegetables, if desired, and bake an additional 10 minutes. You want the vegetables to be very tender before removing from oven, almost ready to melt, so cooking time may vary.
- Cool the tian slightly and serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices!