I found the original version of this recipe in Ina Garten's "Barefoot in Paris" cookbook. A tian is really nothing more than layered ingredients cooked together. Usually consisting of vegetables, the ingredients are carefully composed to look attractive as well as taste good.
Tian is also the word used for the baking dish itself. I don't know if my Corning Ware shallow dish is actually a tian, but it seemed to work just fine.
This dish was easy to prepare and the combination of flavours has a lovely thyme-infused earthiness. Next time I might try it with rosemary. So...on with the recipe.
Vegetable Tian (serves 3-4)
2 yellow onions, cut in half and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound white potatoes (or whatever you have) (I used one average sized baking potato)
1 medium zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Brush a pan with olive oil. I used a 10 round pan, but any size or shape can be used. This dish is easy to expand to feed more people.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and cook the onions until translucent, taking care not to brown them too much. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.
Slice the potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them in tightly, making just one layer. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then the thyme leaves. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, about 1 Tablespoon. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are barely tender. Uncover the dish, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until browned.
NOTE: I forgot the garlic until it was too late, but the dish tasted wonderful nonetheless. And lacking any of the suggested cheeses, I sprinkled about 3 Tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead.