“Late summer” has finally happened here in Austin… it’s warm and sunny, as opposed to hot and muggy, and it feels pretty amazing. Technically it’s fall, but I still have a ton of eggplant, zucchini and other summer vegetables scattered around my countertops. And this rainbow colored vegetable tian was quite possibly the perfect way to celebrate them. (Plus, it was ridiculously fun to make).
This recipe is from chef John Besh’s Cooking from the Heart, which comes out next week. It’s a (huge) beautiful cookbook that is also a very personal story about the places and people who have inspired his cooking journey the most. I love learning about chefs’ backgrounds and what inspires them (especially when it has to do with travel), so I was flattered to receive an email from him asking us to preview the book.
We were very appropriately assigned Chapter 6: Vegetable Love. It’s the sweetest story about his (young and broke) newlywed trip to “sun-drenched” Provence. I’ll just cut to the chase and quote my favorite part…
“We made itineraries noting each village, it’s market days, which grand restaurants were nearby, and most important, were they open for lunch? (Our budget never allowed us to have dinner in a prestigious place). For dinner, we’d retire to our rented gîte rural, a country refuge, where we’d roll up our sleeves, cook rustic Provençal dinners from what the market provided, drink vin de pays, and dine under the stars.”
I mean, how romantic is that? The travel bug has been hitting me hard lately. And even though we’ve only been home for a few weeks, this story has me
dreaming about plotting a cooking trip to Provence.
p.s. how cute are those baking dishes by Lindsay at Suite One Studio?
From Cooking from the Heart by John Besh. Recipe published with permission.
Eggplant and Squash Tian
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for the pan)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
- 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes crosswise into ½-inch thick slices. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, add the eggplant slices and cook, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
- Oil a large baking dish or tian. Make a pinwheel pattern of the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and tomato slices, layering in the onions and garlic, until all the vegetables are used.
- Whisk together the eggs, cream, parmesan, basil and red pepper, season with salt and pepper, and pour into the baking dish. Bake the tian until the vegetables are tender, the custard is set, and the top is nicely browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve right from the baking dish.
Also, pictured here, is a half recipe. Served 2.
I followed the recipe nearly to a tee, although I did add some dried herbes de provence along with the red pepper flakes. (and confession: I used almond milk instead of cream, I just used about 1/2 the amount since it’s a much thinner consistency than cream).