A while ago our next door neighbors, Kate & her son Ryan (which is funny because Ryan is my Kate's middle name), invited us over dinner. Kate is American-born but lived in France for, I think, about 14 years. Anyway, she made us a the most amazing dish which I was still thinking about months later. So I casually asked her for the recipe in passing, and then again a few weeks later. It was then that I learned that it was called a "French Tian". The definition says it is:
A French specialty made from a composite of ingredients that are cooked or baked.
Originally, a tian referred to a Provençal-style bake of mixed vegetables, roasted in a gratin style. The word can also be used to describe any type of casserole-style course, from a braised vegetable stew to a layered dessert.
The term was derived from the the clay cooking vessel that is to prepare the dish.I just remember her saying that it's "so easy". So easy that I didn't even need to write it down. It was all about layering the ingredients & cooking it. When Kate made it for us she used zucchini but I has some squash that I needed to use, so I included that as well. I probably ended up using about 2 yellow squash and about 3-4 zucchini. Sautee them in 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil adding a dash of salt & pepper. Set aside. You start with the sauce. Let me just say this: I am a big fan of pre-made pasta/tomato sauces. I think there are so many delicious options out there these days and I nearly went with one but I remember Kate talking about using a lot of fresh basil in her's and I had fresh basil and so in the end, I decided to make it from scratch. It wasn't anything fancy. I started with a large can of tomato sauce (I think it was 29 oz?), a bunch of basil, salt & pepper and some garlic. And then my secret ingredient: If there were ever a time to pull out the old "Herbes of Provence" I would say now would be the time. This is a spice that I really enjoy on chicken or grilled veggies. It's a combination of thyme, basil, fennel, lavender & savory. I was generous in adding this to the sauce. I would say I probably added 2-3 tsp's, maybe more. If you decide to make your own sauce using this, just taste it until it's right. So it really is as easy as she said. Start out spreading some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan until its covered. Next add the squash & zucchini. Then, sprinkle about 1/2 the block of Borsin on top: Then repeat the whole process of layering, making sure you end with sauce on the top. I used all the sauce but I'm thinking next time (you'd better believe there is going to be a next time!) I might use a little less sauce or more veggies. Next, grate some gruyere cheese (I found an amazing gruyere/cheddar cheese blend from Trader Joe's that was amazing) and sprinkle on top: Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. The entire time I was making the Tian, I debated on using mushrooms but I was anxious to get it in the oven. I thought the mushrooms would be so good with the zucchini & squash. In the end, I sauteed them while the Tian was in the oven and they were served as a side. I really, really loved this dish. It's vegetarian but very hearty. Let me know if you make it and like it.
School's out next week. I didn't finish the quilt. I've got other plans for it- you'll see soon enough. Chris & I went on a date to Moonrise Kingdom a few weeks ago and it was Wes Anderson at his finest. Just wish there was more Jason Schwartzman. Check it out.
We are plugging away - heading to Utah next week for some Summer fun.
Au revior, A bientot!