Summer always seems far too short. But this year, more than ever, I’m not ready to let it go just yet. I live in Los Angeles so I know we’ll have more sunshine. Still, I can feel the nip in the air despite the golden glow of summer’s last light. There will be more dinners outside and I’m sure to dangle my feet in the pool a few more times. However, the lure of sweaters and soup is just around the corner. So for now, I’m hell‑bent on keeping summer going as long as I can with this Tian Provençal.
Tomato-Eggplant Tian Provençal
Originating in sunny Provence, tian is a French word that describes a shallow ceramic casserole dish as well as the food it contains. Traditionally it features a variety of vegetables, herbs and cheeses layered and baked – much like a gratin (or even a casserole). You’ll often see the ingredients carefully constructed with beautiful rounds lined up in a repeating pattern (à la Thomas Keller in the movie Ratatouille). Which is an arrangement that very much appeals to the artist in me. However, the vegetables in my Tomato-Eggplant Tian Provençal are laid into the dish in a more casual manner. Which, in my opinion, has its own artful elegance well-suited to the late season glut of vegetables we’re seeing at our farmers market.
In fact, it was a bag of gnarled end-of-season tomatoes and a couple of collasal eggplants that inspired the casual approach to this tian. I served it as an open-faced sandwich on lightly toasted olive bread at what I know will be one of the last languorous meals the season. GREG