No Ingredients Were Harmed: Vegetable Tian

July 11th, 2013

As much as classic French cuisine relies on the “mother sauces”, the bounty of summer vegetables calls for lighter, more delicate touches. Enter fresh herbs – delicate French thyme, in particular, instantly evokes a warm afternoon in Occitania. It is my favorite way to make tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant reach their true potential.

So why isn’t this a recipe for ratatouille? Few realize that ratatouille is not quite the “set it and forget it” dish that it is made out to be; in fact, each ingredient needs to be prepared and cooked individually. The French are the first to say it: “la véritable ratatouille ne souffre pas la médiocrité“. It is decidedly unforgiving.

This is where the tian shines. With quality ingredients, you are guaranteed an elegant, fragrant and deliciously caramelized dish. Serve it alongside grilled meats and prepare to be transported.

Tian de légumes

Tian de légumes

Serves 8 as a side dish.


Onions – 12 oz
Zucchini – 14 oz
Eggplant – 1 ¼ lb
Tomatoes – 1 lb
Fresh thyme – 2 tsp
Olive oil – 3 Tbsp
Salt & pepper – to taste

Tian Ingredients

Tian ingredients

Assembling the tian

Assembling the tian




  1. Peel and mince the onions. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet; add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. The onions should not color.
  2. Wash all the other vegetables and cut them in ¼-in thick slices.
  3. Preheat the oven to 355F.
  4. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of a baking dish or individual dishes (a “tian” is a shallow earthenware dish, and by extension, the food that it contains). Stack the vegetable slices into alternating layers. Season and sprinkle with thyme.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and serve immediately or keep hot by covering tightly with aluminum foil.

If you give these a try, let us know how they turned out in the comments below!

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Food Pyrenees is a boutique culinary travel company specializing in all-inclusive field trips to Southwestern France for curious foodies. Our blog, The Dish, offers food for thought by tour curator Aurelie Brown.

Aurelie Brown