Why It Works
- Pre-cooking each vegetable in a skillet removes excess moisture and browns the slices, making the final dish much more flavorful.
- Cutting each vegetable between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick delivers perfect slices. Any thinner, and the slices shrink away to nothing during cooking; any thicker, and the tian seems clunky and lacks elegance.
At the end of the movie Ratatouille, Remy the rat creates a beautiful reinterpretation of a classic ratatouille. Only problem: It's not a ratatouille at all. It's a tian, and they've been making it in Provence for generations. This version features thinly sliced zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant, along with a simple tomato sauce.
- About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), ends trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 pound summer squash (about 2 medium), ends trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- 3/4 pound Japanese eggplant (about 2), ends trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
- 3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches and being sure not to crowd the pan, add zucchini, season with salt, and cook, turning, until just tender and browned in spots, about 4 minutes per batch. Add more oil as needed to prevent pan from drying out, and adjust heat as needed throughout to maintain a very hot, but not heavily smoking, pan. Transfer each batch to a baking sheet and spread in an even layer to cool, then transfer cooled slices to a second baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini, squash, and eggplant until all vegetables are lightly browned.
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring and adjusting heat to maintain simmer, for 15 minutes. Blend to smooth puree with a hand blender or in a countertop blender, then add marjoram or oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
In an earthenware, ceramic, or glass baking dish, spoon just enough sauce to cover bottom of dish in a thin, even layer. Arrange sautéed vegetable slices in an alternating layered pattern (see note) on top of sauce until entire dish is filled. Spoon a thin layer of sauce on top of vegetables; reserve remaining sauce for another use.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450°F. Bake until tian is fully heated through and lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes. Serve.
earthenware, ceramic, or glass casserole or baking dish (about 2-quart capacity; see note); baking sheets; blender or immersion blender
The exact size and shape of the baking dish is flexible. The vegetables should be layered more tightly in a smaller dish and spaced more widely apart in a larger one. In round dishes, it's best to layer the vegetables in a circular pattern; in rectangular dishes, they should be layered in rows.