A French Tian is similar to ratatouille in terms of ingredients, but it is more likely what you will see in high-end restaurants, as it is a more elegant presentation. A tian does not typically include roasted vegetables, whereas that is an option with ratatouille. Both ratatouille and tians excel at using the best of late summer‘s vegetables, and both are low carb, vegetarian and vegan.Jump to Recipe
What is French Tian?
The modern French Tian is a dish composed of thinly sliced vegetables vertically stacked in a casserole type of cookware. Traditionally there isn’t any liquid added, which allows the vegetables to retain their integrity during the cooking process rather than becoming mushy.
The French tian is also referred to as a ratatouille tian, or simply ratatouille. Ingredients typically include sliced rounds of eggplant, nestled between crisp yellow squash and zucchini.
The ratatouille tian, unlike the classic French tian, simmers the vegetables in a robust bell pepper and tomato sauce, which provides more moisture to the dish. Once the vegetables and sauce are arranged in the cooking vessel, it is topped off with fresh herbs.
This dish is really a must for all summer cooking. It has quickly become a regular dinner (or side) in our home during the late summer and early fall.
Best Vegetable Substitutions
The recipe below uses specific amounts of vegetables, but ratatouille and tian ingredients are very flexible. if you prefer more zucchini or eggplant, or you have an abundance of one, then by all means feel free to improvise.
I use a combination of yellow bell pepper and red bell pepper. The only thing I would stay away from is “green” bell peppers since they aren’t as mature as the red and yellow, therefore the taste will be less sweet and more vegetal.
As for the sliced tomatoes, you can use Roma tomatoes or any meaty tomato. Choose ones that can be sliced to the same size as the other vegetables.
There are many varieties of eggplant that you can find at most stores or farmer’s markets. While you could make any kind work for this dish, I suggest using long eggplant as opposed to more bulbous globe eggplant. This will ensure that the slices are closer in size to the squash and zucchini.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Because the vegetables in this dish are “water-heavy”, I do not recommend freezing. The eggplant and squash will become very mushy upon thawing.
Yes! Ratatouilles and tians can be made up to a day ahead of serving. You may find that after letting the herbs and vegetables sit together for a day that the flavor is more robust. Just reheat in the oven. It can even be served at room temperature.
Although the name ratatouille lent itself to a movie staring a rat, the origins of the dish date back to the late 18th century in France.
- 2.5 quart casserole dish
- Mandolin (optional) Optional
- 2 eggplants
- 6 Roma tomatoes or any dense tomato
- 2 yellow squash
- 2 zucchini
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes can
- 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped (8-10 leaves)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice the eggplant, tomatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini in thin rounds. (A mandolin makes the slices uniform and make for quick work.) Put these aside and start the herb seasoning.2 eggplants, 6 Roma tomatoes, 2 yellow squash, 2 zucchini
- Mix all ingredients for the herb seasoning in a small bowl. Set aside and make the sauce.2 tbsp fresh basil, 2 tbsp fresh parsley, 2 tsp fresh thyme, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp garlic
- For the sauce: heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes, making sure nothing burns. Once soft stir in the can of crushed tomatoes. Once mixed remove from heat and add the basil.2 tbsp olive oil, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, salt and pepper, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 2 tbsp fresh basil, salt and pepper
- Assemble the tian: pour sauce into casserole dish. Smooth out the sauce. Arrange the vegetables on their ends in a pattern of your choice on top of the sauce, this can be circular as in the picture provided, or in lines across the casserole. Once arranged, spoon the herb mixture over the vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and back for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Serve hot.
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