Vegetable Tian – Gluten Free, Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian
CHC CANADA 150 FOOD BLOG CHALLENGE SERIES
I am a proud Canadian. When the Culinary Historians of Canada invited food bloggers to participate in the “CHC Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge”, I knew that I wanted in! What a great way to celebrate and honour Canada’s 150th birthday by featuring a different Canadian dish or discussing a topic which reflects on what it means to be Canadian. For the month of June, CHC invited food bloggers to share stories and recipes that relate to farmers’ markets, farm-gate stands, dockside fish purchases and other examples of purchasing food directly from the source. Vegetable Tian is my Farmer’s Market inspiration.
Some of my best food memories from my childhood were close to home in our market size vegetable garden. Every day, we would grab our shallow oblong basket called a trug and carry it to the backyard to pick fresh carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces or whatever was ripe at the time. Eating fresh picked produce is a true pleasure to your taste buds.
I live in a produce paradise called the Okanagan Valley where Farmer’s Markets and wineries abound. For example, when I go to the farmer’s market or the roadside stands, the Sweet Strawberry Tomatoes, or the Savoy Cabbage are always irresistible. The vibrant colours and wide variety of seasonal vegetables can represent that days inspiration. I enjoy making a Vegetable Tian with fresh young zucchini, tomato and eggplant. A tian (le tian) is a type of gratin dish. It is made by thinly slicing vegetables and layering them in a shallow earthenware dish and slow-baked until the vegetables are tender and flavourful. The hidden bottom layer of the tian is caramelized onion, which not only provides amazing flavour to the dish but also a stable foundation on which to lay and shingle the sliced vegetables.
CHEF TALK: The trio of vegetables as shown in the photograph above are considered a Provencal version of Tian and one of my personal favourites (tomatoes; eggplant, zucchini). The first time I had this dish was in Provence, France while volunteering at a castle rebuild. The in-house chef made typical Provencal dishes every day using the local produce, bread and wine. As another option, I sliced bright orange yam in the layers and it was equally as delicious. This Vegetable Tian recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, nut free, egg free, and can be dairy free. The classic version does not always have cheese sprinkled on top, however, I do prefer my Vegetable Tian with a small amount of Parmesan (and perhaps a spoonful of bread crumbs) baked on top.
The Vegetable Tian is more of an assembly of wonderful ingredients than it is a recipe. Use whatever is available at the green grocers or farmer’s market to make your own version of Vegetable Tian. Ensure that the vegetables are well seasoned and baked until the vegetables are tender to allow the flavours of the vegetables to meld. Enjoy this delicious dish with crusty French baguette, fresh butter and a glass of good red wine, which is tradition in Provence and my household as well.
- 2 medium to large onions (white or yellow), sliced thinly
- 2 – 4 Tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 lb. young zucchini
- 1 lb. medium size tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. eggplant, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. yam, thinly sliced
- 1 – 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 – 4 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan Cheese, as required (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the sliced onions and caramelize slowly (I show you how to do this step by step in this post), allowing the onions to reach an amber colour for optimum flavour. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few minutes further. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little of the chopped thyme. Place the caramelized onions in a single layer in the bottom of a greased shallow oven-safe dish.
- Lay the sliced vegetables in layers around the baking dish as shown in the photograph. CHEF TIP: I find seasoning the vegetables easier if I place each type of sliced vegetable in a separate small bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of thyme. Toss the vegetables gently to incorporate the seasoning. Repeat this step for the remaining vegetables and then you are ready to assemble.
- Place fresh basil leaves in between the layers by separating the layers and slipping the basil leaves here and there throughout the tian for added flavour. Drizzle the dish with additional olive oil – about 1 Tablespoon.
- Bake the Tian for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F/175°C and bake for a further 40 – 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are quite tender. If you are using Parmesan cheese, sprinkle it on the tian during the last 30 minutes of baking.
- Serve the tian warm or at room temperature with additional basil leaves torn or sliced as chiffonade on top of the dish.
Here is your visual step by step for Vegetable Tian:
I love visiting the farmer’s markets and local roadside stands in the Okanagan. When travelling in Canada, we seek out the local markets. You get to know the farmers who are as passionate about growing their produce as I am about using them. Every year, I anxiously await the arrival of Okanagan peaches, the sour cherries, fingerling potatoes, fresh dill, beets, apples – the list goes on and on. The hustle and bustle of the markets and my overflowing market basket take me to my happy place.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Oven Temperature Accuracy
- Preparing Your Pans
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