All the of flavors of South-France Provence in this elegant and delicious vegetal dish. With my secrets for well cooked and and not dry vegetables. I also explain the difference with a ratatouille.
Ratatouille and Tian are both Provençal but are different dishes
This lovely dish is often named ratatouille which is not the right word. Pixar ratatouille movie didn’t help…
- Ratatouille comes from the same region of South-France Provence, is mage with the same Mediterranean summer vegetables : eggplant, zucchini, tomato but it’s a stew, see my ratatouille recipe here.
- A tian is this dish of neatly arranged slices of vegetables baked in the oven.
Tian comes from the ancient Provençal word designating the dish (the container), and nowadays by extension names what’s cooked in it. A tian is actually the terracotta dish used for cooking, the word tian coming from the ancient Greek “teganon” (frying pan). Tian earthenware dishes (tians) were used to cook any kind of dish in the baker’s oven or individual bread oven in the fireplace after bread was baked, to use the remaining heat.
The most famous tian is prepared with summer vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, tomato) typical from South-France Provence but in provençal cooking you’ll find tians of meat, fish dishes or other vegetables such as chard; and sweet tians sometimes too.
Tian is sometimes a bit dry, so here are my tips and tricks for a well cooked tian with soft vegs..
- Arrange vegetables with something moist in the bottom of the dish: as in my recipe with pan fried onions in olive oil, on garlic strips glazed with olive oil, a bit of tomato sauce… Whichever you choose, it’s good to have a something most at the bottom of the dish.
- Tighten the vegetables well. Well packed, flavors will mix which will make your tian even more tasty ; and tomato, zucchini and eggplant slices will be less dry in contact with the heat of the oven.
- Place a bowl of water in your oven, it will bring humidity, as if you had some steam.
- Drizzle olive oil before baking. Eventually, I don’t think it’s very conventional though, add tomato sauce between the rows of vegetables.
- Cook for a long time over low heat. Here I recommend 1h30 at 160 °C / 320°F.
- Cover the first hour with aluminum foil to trap humidity. Remove it the last half hour for a caramelized touch.
Summer vegetables Provençal Tian
- 2 small eggplants or 1 large
- 2 large zucchinis 4 small
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil
- Herbes de Provence or fresh thyme
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- tomato sauce
- Preheat the oven to 160 °C / 320°F. Place in your oven a bowl of water to bring humidity into your oven (it's optional).
- Heat 2 table spoons olive oil in a pan. Slice the onions. Fry them on a fairly high heat for about ten minutes. Do not forget to season with salt.
- Meanwhile slice the vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, tomato). Cut them into slices of the same thickness.
- Peel garlic clove and grate the bottom and edges of the baking dish with garlic. Chop the rest of this clove and put it in the frying onions.
- Pour the onions in the bottom of the dish. Optionally pour some tomato sauce over.
- Arrange vegetables slices on the edge, alternatively eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Pack well your rows and make sure the slices are the same size (possibly cutting the larger ones or adjusting 2 of the smaller ones).
- Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence and generously dizzle olive oil. You can optionally add a bit tomato sauce between the rows.
- Cook at low heat, 160 °C/ 320°F, for 1:30. You can cover with aluminum foil the first hour. During the last half hour, occasionally sprinkle with cooking juices.
Bon appétit !