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Make Food, Not Excuses

Summer Vegetable Tian with Tomatoes & Courgette

Tomato and courgette

The name tian, as described by Elizabeth David [1] in Is There a Nutmeg in the House? [2], derives from the Proven├žal name for the earthenware dish that this kind of vegetable and egg mixture is usually made in.

The dish could not be easier to put together. Layer the vegetables and herbs in an ovenproof dish, douse with olive oil and slow-roast for an hour or so, then mix the lot with beaten egg, some cheese if you like and return to the oven until set. Then eat.

It’s really a dish to build around what you have to hand. I would have added fennel if there had been any available, along with fresh goat’s cheese or perhaps some feta. You can replace the regular yellow onion with red onion if you like, use oregano instead of marjoram, or add parsley or other herbs of your liking to the mix. It’s all good.

The veg:

  • 3-4 tblsp olive oil plus extra for greasing your dish
  • 1 small-ish courgette, about 250g, cut into 0.5cm rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 400g tomatoes, halved if small, quartered if large
  • half a small onion, about 50g, peeled and cut into 1-2cm chunks
  • 1 small potato, about 100g, peeled, cut into 1cm dice, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 x approx. 10cm sprigs rosemary
  • 2 x approx. 10cm sprigs thyme
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

The tian:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped marjoram leaves
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g fresh, soft goat’s cheese (optional)
  • 2 tblsp freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

You’ll also need:

  • An ovenproof dish, mine was around 20cm x 20cm and 5cm deep

The Steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 150C
  • Brush your baking dish with some olive oil, then cover the base with a layer of courgette slices. Scatter over the slivered garlic, then add a layer of tomatoes, cut side facing up.
  • Tuck the chunks of onion and the diced potato around the tomatoes. Break the sprigs of rosemary and thyme into 2-3cm lengths and tuck them in around the dish also.
  • Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of coarse salt and a few twists of black pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and place in the oven for about an hour or until the tomatoes have started to wrinkle and the vegetables are still fairly firm but can be pierced easily with a sharp knife.
  • Remove the vegetables from the oven and turn the heat up to 180C.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs well and add the marjoram, salt and a few twists of black pepper. Crumble the goat’s cheese into the mixture if using.
  • Tip the roasted vegetables into the beaten egg and stir to mix, then pour the entire mixture back into your baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan if using.
  • Return to the oven for around 25 minutes or until set and golden on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with salads and the like.

The Variations:

  • If I’d had a small bulb of fennel, I’d certainly have added pieces of that to the vegetable mix

The Results:

  • Serve 2-3, along with salads and what have you.