Vegetable Tian–BONUS TRACK

Hear this Bonus Track of the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast HERE.

All our Indiana crops are suffering from late planting, soggy, if not out-right flooded soils, and cool temperatures so far this spring and summer. We will see the effects throughout the season in farm fields, in the garden, and at the farmers markets. Lower than normal yields and a decrease in quality are no doubt in store this summer and fall.

For those who like to cook with the seasons, it might be “slim pickin’s” of fresh local produce this summer, but we’ll manage and make do with the choices available. If the quality of produces is not picture perfect, I have a suggestion. Try a vegetable tian. It’s pronounced “tee ANN” or “tee OHN,” depending on how French you want to sound. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle–“tee AHN.” However you say it, it’s a delicious and easy way to prepare summer vegetables in a flavorful, colorful side dish.

There are many versions of tian, but it’s all the same idea. Google it and you’ll find recipes from Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and about every chef out there. In my version, it starts on the stove in a cast iron skillet, then we move out to the grill for most of the cooking. I usually cook this dish on the gas grill, but live fire will work also, as long as you can monitor and regulate your cooking temp. With a small amount of seasoning, this combination comes out bursting with flavor and freshness.

Vegetable Tian On The Grill

  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper (plus thyme or oregano, if desired)
  • One large yellow sweet onion, sliced in 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 Yukon Gold or red skin potatoes, depending on size, sliced 1/4-in thick
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-in thick
  • 2-3 small zucchini, sliced 1/4-in thick
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

On the stove, heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet, or other pan suitable for the grill, to medium low. Get the outdoor grill preheated to 375º. Drizzle in the skillet about 2 T olive oil, then put in onion slices and begin to cook, no higher than medium low. You are not cooking them completely, just getting them started. After a couple minutes, add the garlic, stir, and continue cooking gently for another minute. Then remove from heat and turn off stove. Season the onions and garlic with just a pinch of salt and pepper, and add another drizzle of olive oil.

To the skillet, on top of the onions, add the potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini in layers. Either potato/tomato/zucchini, in a fan arrangement, or a potato layer, followed by tomato layer, followed by zucchini layer. Whatever makes you happy. Season lightly as you add layers. Top with the parmesan cheese and another generous drizzle of olive oil.

Using oven mitts (it may still be hot from the stove) take the skillet out to the preheated grill (375º). Place it on the grill over direct heat. After 10-15 minutes, move to indirect heat and finish cooking, about 30 more minutes. At that point, cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue cooking 15 more minutes, for a total cooking time of 60 minutes on the grill.  Test potatoes for doneness before removing from grill.

When done, set the skillet aside while you finish preparing the rest of the meal. The tian can sit for up to 30 minutes before serving. It’s also good served at room temperature. Serve it right out of the skillet.

If you don’t want to cook the tian on the grill, simply bake in a 375º oven following the same instructions.

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Onions & garlic just start to soften.
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Tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes (I didn’t use all 5 potatoes!)
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1/4-inch sliced
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Onto the grill
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End of cooking, golden brown

Summer Vegetable Sauté

Here is a quick and easy way to dress up summer vegetables into a delicious side dish–my Summer Vegetable Sauté. The idea is to preserve the fresh-ripened flavor of the vegetables, while enhancing them with a light sauté and a hint of seasoning. It can be served warm immediately, or chilled for later and served as a salad.

Hear me cook this dish on Earth Eats, WFIU’s weekly show focused on local food and sustainable agriculture. It’s also a podcast you can find on iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.

In the recipe below, I use grape or cherry tomatoes, which are a great option any time of year. In tomato season, use your favorite, whether it’s cherry, beefsteak, plum, or heirloom. Just roughly dice to about 1-inch size and toss them in. If using good local fresh tomatoes, I would pop them in the pan and then remove immediately from heat. They really don’t need to cook and “blister the skins” as the recipe advises. If they are good tomatoes, just toss them in and you are done!

The whole thing can be the basis for a salad including your favorite greens as well. After cooking, allow the veggies to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate if not serving right away. When it’s time to serve, add your favorite greens and toss together. There should be enough liquid in the veggie mixture to “dress” the greens. If not, add a very light drizzle of olive oil and vinegar.

The idea is to play around with ingredients, seasonings, and applications. Give it a try and you’ll be on your way to more creative cooking!

Summer Vegetable Sauté

Note: This dish cooks quickly, so have all ingredients prepped and ready. Don’t overcook the vegetables. They should be tender-crisp when finished. Excellent accompaniment to grilled meats and fish. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C diced red onion (1-inch dice)
  • 1 C diced sweet mini peppers (1-inch dice, red, yellow, orange)
  • 1 C grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 T fresh basil, chopped

Heat a non-stick sauté pan or skillet on medium-low heat. Drizzle with olive oil and toss in onions and peppers. Increase heat to medium. Stir gently, but don’t over-stir, so as to allow veggies to brown slightly. Sprinkle with a pinch (1/4 tsp) kosher salt and a grind or two of pepper. After 3 minutes, add the tomatoes. Stir gently and allow tomatoes to begin to blister their skins. After 2-3 minutes, drizzle veggies with vinegar and add honey. Lightly toss to combine, then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.

Transfer mixture to a serving bowl, add chopped basil and taste for salt/pepper, adjust if needed. Give it another drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately. 

Option 1: Allow vegetable mixture to cool to room temperature, then add fresh mozzarella (1-inch diced pieces or balls). Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Option 2: Change out the seasonings for a different flavor profile. For instance, red wine vinegar, oregano, and feta cheese for a Greek taste. Or substitute other seasonings as you like.

Option 3: Substitute or add other summer vegetables, such as zucchini, peas, or sweet corn removed from cob.