"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Out of the Box, Take 5

I do try not to beat a dead horse...I mean, I'm really not into that sort of thing.  But, here we go.  Let the beating begin.

Kidding.  There will be no beatings.  But I am about to share yet another recipe, from yet another French (ish) cookbook.  (There's your horse.)

Vegetable Tian, from Barefoot in Paris, by Ina Garten.  I have a whole heap of Barefoot cookbooks, but find myself, at least these days, not consulting them very often.  Perhaps it's the excessive use of butter and olive oil...and you know I love my butter and olive oil, so that's saying something.  Perhaps it's the somewhat unobtainable ingredients.  I live in the way-out-there part of the Pacific Northwest.  Even Seattle is far for me, most of the time.  Perhaps I have an inferiority complex...look, I am nowhere near Montauk's fancy pants food shops.  Or Provence, or Sagaponack...wherever that is. Trader Joe's is generally about as fancy as it gets in these parts.  So we make do.

I do like this cookbook.  Many of the recipes are fairly standard ones, which you'll find in a lot of other French-style cookbooks.  Some are a bit fiddly for me, and some are just perfectly lovely.  Like the Vegetable Tian.

Super easy to prepare, especially with our summer bounty from our CSA box.  A bit of slicing, a bit of layering, drizzle of olive oil and cheese...and Bob's your uncle.  (I had to drop that one.  Look it up.  I love weird slang.)  As usual, I altered the recipe, but only minutely this time.  It calls for Gruyere.  I had none.  But I did have a tasty Toscano peppered cheese from Trader Joe's, which works as a wonderful substitute for parmesan or gruyere, and is also great to nibble from a cheese platter.  Also, I ignored Ina's advice to have all my vegetables be of uniform size, because they weren't.  And I simply wasn't up to a perfection mission.  Perhaps the next time the queen comes to tea, I'll make certain everything is just so...but for the Mister, the kiddos, and myself, it'll do.

There is a somewhat lengthy cooking time attached to this recipe, but because it's so quick to assemble, you can get it ready and pop it in the oven and pretty much get on with other things, until it's ready.  I think it would work perfectly fine to assemble it earlier in the day, but just stop short of seasoning (so the veg doesn't go watery), pop it in the fridge, and bake later that day.

Despite the long cooking time, the vegetables are in no way soggy, and the cheesy top goes all crispy and browned...oh yum.  You really must eat this.

Vegetable Tian - adapted from Barefoot in Paris
-serves 6, as a side

olive oil
2 large onions, cut in half and sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium potatoes, unpeeled (red, yellow, or white, not Russet)
3/4 pound summer squash (I used half yellow crookneck, and half zucchini)
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 oz Gruyere cheese, or Toscano, or a cheese of your choice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Brush a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with olive oil.  

In a medium pan, heat 2 Tbs olive oil and cook the onions over medium low heat, for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, summer squash, and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices.  Layer them alternately atop the onions, in a spiral pattern, beginning on the outside of the dish, working your way in.  They ought to fit tightly, making only one layer, so each vegetable will have a lovely crispy top.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves and sprigs, and drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.  Remove the foil and thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and bake for another half hour, or until browned.  Serve warm.

We served our Tian alongside polenta.  Scrumptious.

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