Vegetable Tian Recipe

4.70 from 10 votes
1 hour 30 minutes
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This Provencal-inspired Vegetable Tian with tomatoes, zucchini and potatoes epitomizes that sun-drenched region’s simple yet flavorful cooking style. Perfect as a side with roast chicken or as a vegetarian entree!

Vegetable Tian in oval baking dish with serving spoon garnished with fresh thyme.

What is a Tian?

A French tian (pronounced “tyan”) is one of the most classic vegetable casserole recipes. Tian describes the shallow (generally earthenware) baking dish and the food cooked inside it. Any shallow baking dish, such as a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or gratin, will work.

The vegetables in a French tian cook in their own juices; no other liquid is usually required except perhaps a slight drizzle of olive oil.  If using peak-of-summer tomatoes, adding any more liquid won’t be necessary.

The arranged vegetable dish in the popular movie, Ratatouille, is actually a tian; it is not ratatouille, which is a vegetable stew.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

This casual yet elegant Provencal-inspired Vegetable Tian adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook is the perfect way to use up late-summer produce.  I love Ina’s recipes; they’re well-tested and simply fabulous!

Because this vegetable tian includes potatoes, it makes a substantial side dish for roasted meat, poultry, or grilled fish.  It also makes a hearty entrée for the vegetarian friend who comes to dinner.

This French vegetable tian recipe is:

  • Easy to make without any complicated technique.
  • Impressive! The arrangement of colorful vegetables and herbs is simply beautiful!
  • Versatile! Vary the veggies and use eggplant, sliced mushrooms, or peppers, to name a few.

Let’s make it!

Vegetable Tian with serving spoon.

How to Make a French Vegetable Tian:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this French vegetable tian recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Vegetable Tian on marble countertop.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes: Yukon Gold potatoes are a medium starch variety of potatoes.  They hold together after cooking because of their creamy, firm, moist texture. Starchy potatoes such as Russets will work, although they can be on the “crumbly” side after being cooked. Another reason I prefer Yukon Gold potatoes is they have thin, fine skin that doesn’t need to be removed, and the color looks pretty next to the green zucchini and red tomatoes. To keep the vegetable tian low carb, use eggplant instead of potatoes.
  • Zucchini: Avoid large, seedy zucchini. Use two medium or three small zucchini. You can also use yellow squash.
  • Olive Oil: Use your favorite extra-virgin olive oil for general cooking. I like California Olive Ranch.
  • Thyme: Use fresh thyme if you have it available. Dried thyme will work, but it can sometimes take on a bitter note from cooking for a long period of time.
  • Gruyere Cheese: Gruyere is a hard Swiss cheese named after the town of Gruyeres in Fribourg, Switzerland. It is sweet, slightly salty and nutty; however, the flavor can vary with age. Gruyere cheese can be pricey, but Grand Cru cheese, made in Wisconsin, is a good substitute. You can also substitute white cheddar. Substituting Parmesan cheese will not make this a vegetarian tian because most Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet.
  • Plum Tomatoes: Plum or Roma tomatoes are a good choice in this vegetarian tian because they’re less watery than round tomatoes.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients for the vegetarian tian.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large, shallow baking dish with olive oil.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes or until beginning to soften and take on a little color.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add half the thyme and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Tilt the skillet, push the onions to one side and drain off any excess oil.
  • Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cool while preparing the vegetables.
  • Slice the zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes into 1/4-inch slices.
  • Season generously with salt and black pepper while the vegetables are on your cutting board.
Sliced tomatoes, sliced Yukon Gold potatoes and sliced zucchini on wood cutting board.
  • Sprinkle half of the cheese over the cooled onions.
Cheese added to onion, garlic and thyme combination in oval baking dish.
  • Starting with the zucchini, place them in the baking dish over the onions, fanning them out into rows.
  • Next, place the potatoes evenly between the zucchini and the tomato slices. If any vegetables are left, tuck them in wherever you can to use them up.
  • Once they’re arranged, sprinkle with more salt, black pepper and remaining thyme.

  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Uncover the dish, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  • This! A vegetarian tian that’s perfect as a side dish or as a vegetarian main dish!
Baked Vegetable Tian with melted cheese on top.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Arrange the vegetables in individual baking dishes, and this dish will be the hit of your next dinner party.
  • It is essential to season the vegetables with salt and pepper before arranging them in the baking dish.
  • Ina does not sprinkle the onions with cheese before layering the vegetables over the top. I like to add a small amount, and although the cheese breaks down while cooking, it helps to add flavor to the vegetable tian without drizzling with olive oil.
  • The tian will be juicy. However, baking uncovered while the cheese melts on the top will allow some of those juices to evaporate. Letting the tian rest before serving is essential so those juices settle down. If you plan to reheat the vegetable tian, you will want those juices so it’s not dry. When I make this for personal chef clients, that additional liquid is essential so the tian is not dry when they reheat it.
Vegetable Tian in oval baking dish with serving spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which vegetables are used in a tian recipe?

The vegetables in tians are interchangeable but are generally Mediterranean-style: Yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms and onions. This tian recipe would also work well with fall vegetables like squash and beets to replace the zucchini and tomatoes.

Can a vegetable tian be made ahead of time?

Yes! Assemble, bake until the potatoes are tender. Cool, then refrigerate for up to two days.  When needed, heat in the oven loosely covered with aluminum foil until hot. Then, proceed with adding the remaining cheese and lightly browning the top. I don’t recommend storing fully assembled without baking–the potatoes will discolor. Tucking the potatoes in at the last minute is also an option.

What is the difference between a tian and ratatouille?

A vegetable or vegetarian tian is an arranged vegetable casserole baked in a shallow, often earthenware baking dish. Ratatouille is a vegetable stew. The dish in the movie Ratatouille is actually a tian, not ratatouille.

Vegetable Tian in oval baking dish with serving spoon.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Use within five days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.

Serve with:

For more summer vegetable casseroles, try my:

Get all my vegetable recipes at Vegetable Recipes – From A Chef’s Kitchen.

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Vegetable Tian in oval baking dish with serving spoon garnished with fresh thyme.

Vegetable Tian

4.70 from 10 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
This Provencal-inspired Vegetable Tian with tomatoes, zucchini and potatoes epitomizes that sun-drenched region's simple yet flavorful cooking style.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Side Dishes – Beans Rice and Grains
Cuisine French / Provencal
Servings 6
Calories 237 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil - plus more to coat baking dish
  • 2 large onions - halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 large cloves garlic - or 12 medium cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme - divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 cups grated Gruyere cheese - divided
  • 2 medium zucchini - or 3 small
  • 5 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound baby potatoes - such as red or Yukon gold

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large, shallow baking dish with olive oil.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook 8-10 minutes or until beginning to soften and take on a little color.
  • Add the garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add half the thyme and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Tilt the skillet, push the onions to one side and drain off any excess oil. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and allow to cool while preparing the vegetables.
  • Slice the zucchini, tomatoes and potatoes into 1/4-inch slices.
  • While the vegetables are on your cutting board, season with salt and black pepper.
  • Sprinkle half of the cheese over the onions.
  • Starting with the zucchini, place them in the baking dish over the onions, fanning them out into rows.
  • Next, place the potatoes evenly in between the zucchini followed by the tomato slices. If any vegetables are left, tuck them in wherever you can to use them up.
  • Once they’re arranged, sprinkle with more salt, black pepper and remaining thyme.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  • Uncover the dish, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Assemble, bake until the potatoes are tender. Cool, then refrigerate for up to two days.  When needed, heat in the oven loosely covered with aluminum foil until hot. Then, proceed with adding the remaining cheese and lightly browning the top. I don’t recommend storing fully assembled without baking–the potatoes will discolor. Tucking the potatoes in at the last minute is also an option.
It is essential to season the vegetables with salt and pepper before arranging them in the baking dish.
The tian will be juicy. However, baking uncovered while the cheese melts on the top will allow some of those juices to evaporate. Letting the tian rest before serving is essential so those juices settle down. If you plan to reheat the vegetable tian, you will want those juices so it’s not dry. When I make this for personal chef clients, that additional liquid is essential so the tian is not dry when they reheat it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 722mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 804IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 268mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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31 Comments

  1. Carol, I’m not a chef, merely a home cook. I notice that there are similarities between this dish and Ratatouille, a dish I’ve only made once, but we all loved. Like you, I’m getting produce from my garden with zucchini and tomatoes being the stars this year. I always have potatoes, so I’m definitely planning to make this. It’s almost too pretty to eat.

  2. This looks gorgeous. I love it when you can pull fresh, yet simple ingredients and make something so wonderful and flavorful!