Provençal tian is an earthenware dish for cooking and serving. Tian is also what is cooked in it. It became quite popular all over the world when Pixar’s animated film Ratatouille came out in 2007. In the movie, the dish that was cooked to impress a restaurant critic caused some confusion about Ratatouille, Imam Byaldi, and Tian — all of them stews with assorted vegetables (though tian can include lean meat and cheese).
For years my tians looked similar — overlapping round slices of vegetables layered in an alternating pattern.
After the successful variation of Patlican Kebabi, I wanted to try the same arrangement of vegetables for tian.
Preheat oven 400F. Prepare 2-2.5 quart baking dish. Wash vegetables. Peel onion and garlic. Mince parsley and thyme.
Remove the stem end and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Slice each half lengthwise 0.25-0.3" thick.
Remove the stem end and slice the zucchini lengthwise 0.25" thick.
Remove the stem end and cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and veins.
Heat the largest skillet you have over high heat. Brush or spray eggplant slices with olive oil, season, and fry on both sides until soft and lightly caramelized. It takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside.
Do the same with zucchini slices. Set aside.
Repeat with peppers. Press them down with a spatula. Peppers might take a little longer. Get some blisters on their skin side — with loud sound affects! Set aside.
While eggplants, zucchini, and peppers are cooking, cut onion in half lengthwise, cut off the ends and slice into slivers. Mince garlic. When done with peppers, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the hot skillet and saute onions and garlic until soft, sweet, and fragrant.
Transfer sauteed onions into the baking dish. Open a can of tomatoes, strain whole tomatoes, slice them in half lengthwise, and reserve. Top sauteed onions with a few spoons of tomato puree from the can. Sprinkle with minced herbs.
Layer slices of vegetables starting with pepper on the bottom and finishing with a piece of tomato on the top. Roll them together and place vertically into the baking dish.
Spoon more of tomato puree on top and arrange cherry tomato halves.
Bake for 1 hour.
Serve hot or cold with a slice of fresh French baguette.