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.
This dish is delicious served warm from the oven, but it’s even better served at room temperature the next day.
- 1 ½ pound eggplant (about 2 medium globe eggplants)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (divided)
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup olive oil (plus more as needed as needed)
- 1 pound medium tomatoes
- 4 ounce crumbled goat cheese (divided)
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
- 10–12 slice olive bread (lightly toasted if you like)
- very good extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the eggplant and then slice crosswise into thin rounds (about ⅓ inch thick). Place the slices into a large bowl and toss them with half the thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup olive oil. Set aside.
Slice off the stem end of the all the tomatoes and discard. Slice the rest of the tomatoes crosswise into thin rounds (about ⅓ inch thick). Place the slices into a large bowl and set aside.
Arrange about one-third of the eggplant slices in a single layer, slighting overlapping, on the bottom of 2‑quart baking dish (or similarly sized casserole dish such as a French tian). Spread about half the crumbled goat cheese over the eggplant slices, then layer half the tomatoes, slightly overlapping, on top of the cheese. Repeat the process with another third of the eggplant slices, the remaining goat cheese, and the remaining tomatoes slices. Top the tian with the final third of eggplant slices, then drizzle any liquid remaining in the bowls over the top.
Sprinkle the panko and remaining thyme leaves over the top evenly and then drizzle generously with additional olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about one hour. Serve warm or room temperature scooped on top of olive bread slices and drizzled with very good extra virgin olive oil.