French summer vegetable tian

Tian is on the one hand a traditional Provencal dish, originally a simple flat or glazed stoneware, and secondly a culinary preparation, which is typical of Avignon and is considered a specialty by a large part of Provence.

This is a variation on the classic, but it is my preferred version. I found it years ago in a cookbook and copied it down, but have no idea what the title was. The arrangement of the vegetables in three colourful stripes makes this a piece de résistance, although you can just throw it all in haphazardly without affecting the flavour. The recipe makes a generous quantity. Leftovers are lovely to eat as a salad.

Serves 8

  • butter, for greasing
  • 1 red pepper, cored and sliced into rings
  • 350 g vine or plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 350 g courgettes, sliced in 1 cm rounds
  • 400 g artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 350 g aubergine, sliced in 5 mm rounds
  • 300 g fennel, sliced
  • 50 g good-quality black olives
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 200 g fresh goat’s cheese (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • For the dressing
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a handful of fresh basil, shredded
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a wide rectangular ovenproof dish. Aim to interleave each pair of vegetables with one another: place the red bell pepper and tomatoes alternately in one red stripe across the top of the dish and the courgette and artichoke hearts in green stripe across the bottom. Arrange the slices of aubergine and fennel in the middle.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and spoon almost all the mixture over the vegetables as evenly as possible. Brush every exposed surface with the remaining dressing.

Season with plenty of pepper and garnish with olives and bay leaves.
Roast for 45-50 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, sizzling and well-
browned around the edges.

Remove from the oven and crumble the goat’s
cheese, if using, over the surface. Serve warm or cold.

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