Slow-roasted, deeply caramelized vegetables star in this dish.
In this simple Provençal style dish, humble vegetables slow roast and melt into a magical melange. Tomatoes soften and slump. Onions crisp up and caramelize. Thinly sliced vegetables with a reputation for blandness (I’m talking to you, zucchini and eggplant!) soak up a luscious, garlicky herb-flecked olive oil that’s been mingling with juices from the aforementioned slumpy tomatoes. Most often, roasted vegetable dishes highlight a single veg—Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli come to mind. Here, the marriage of many creates a sum delectably greater than its parts.Click to jump to recipe
This is a rustic, easy to alter recipe.
If you don’t like eggplant, for example, swap it out for potatoes or amp up the other veg. And just about any fresh herb will work here, but if you don’t have fresh, dried herbs work well, too. Tians (FYI, the word tian refers both to the earthenware dish in which this roasted vegetable dish was traditionally cooked and to the prepared dish), almost always include thyme, as either a stand alone herb or in combination with others. I personally prefer the depth of flavor that comes from using multiple herbs.
I think just about any vegetable dish can benefit from the brightness of a light lemon zest shower and a hint of heat. They are not traditional tian ingredients, but again, this is a make-it-your-own dish. Garlic is traditional, and I use copious amounts of it here—in both the oil and tucked between the rounds.
Pack the veggies in tightly.
The vegetables will shrink as they roast, so you want them to snuggle up closely in order to soften and soak up flavor from each other. After all of the rounds are in place, I like to tuck a sliver of garlic between as many as possible. Trust me, the garlic flavor mellows as it roasts and does not overpower.
Provençal Vegetable Tian
- ⅓ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 organic lemon
- 1 small pinch red chili flakes
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves + small whole leaves for garnishing
- 6 cloves plump garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced, divided
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, divided
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ lb small eggplant, topped and tailed, then sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 1 ¼ lbs ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- ½ lb small red onions, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 1 lb zucchini (green or golden), topped and tailed, then sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Add 2½ tablespoons of the oil to an 8" or 9" round casserole dish, swirling to coat bottom and sides.
- Zest half of the lemon over the oil (saving the second half for zesting over dish when it emerges from the oven). Add chilli flakes, thyme, the chopped basil, ⅓ of the garlic, and ⅔ of the dill and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Arrange the eggplant, tomato, onion, and zucchini rounds (one of each, then repeat) vertically, on their edges. Continue until you've tightly packed the rounds around the circumference, then fill the middle snugly with the remaining rounds. Slip the remaining garlic slices between as many rounds as possible, season with salt and pepper, shower with the rest of the chopped herbs, and drizzle all over with the remaining oil.
- Place casserole dish on prepared baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake for 60-70 minutes, until vegetables are very tender and the edges are nicely browned. Your time will vary depending on the size of your dish and the vegetables you use—occassionally I've had to let them go an extra 15 minutes or more to achieve softeness and browning.
- Zest the rest of the lemon over the dish and garnish with basil leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature, lightly drizzling each serving with oil from the bottom of the dish. Discard thyme sprigs and pass remaining oil for dipping bread or drizzling over chicken or fish.