Tian is a vegetable casserole from Provence in France. It consists of several sliced vegetables layered together and baked in an earthen baking dish. In my version I make 'bochettes' or large pieces of vegetables skewered on a bamboo stick and instead of using sliced tomatoes I used a tomato sauce at the bottom of the pan in which, the vegetables cook slowly in the oven. A kind of shashlik meets Tian!
If you don't have an oven you can cook these over the stovetop on a slow flame. Omit the cheese if you are vegetarian and if you want to reduce the amount of oil in the recipe you can just used crushed tinned tomatoes with the addition of some fresh herbs like fresh, crushed thyme or dried basil. This is one of those delicious recipes that you can adapt to your taste.
Serves 8 1/'2 skewer each
1 liter good quality tomato sauce such as Marinara or Arrabiata
1 7 inch yellow zucchini sliced with skin on into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 7 inch green zucchini sliced with skin into 1/2 inch thick rounds
750 grams Italian eggplant sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds and then halved again with skin
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper cut into 2 inch squares
2 medium white onions sliced into thick rounds
10 cloves of garlic
500 grams of fresh buffalo mozzarella cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
4 10 inch bamboo skewers or use smaller skewers for more individual portions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere to garnish (optional)
In a large skillet on high heat warm 1 tbsp vegetable and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Fry the eggplants in batches (adding more oil with each batch) until seared on all sides but not fully cooked.
Drain and reserve.
Repeat with all the remaining vegetables- bell peppers, zucchini, onions and garlic cloves.
The vegetables should soften just enough to expedite cooking in the oven but should remain firm enough to skewer and not fall apart when baked.
Cool all the vegetables. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare middle rack.
Start skewering them, alternating between vegetables and colors but maintain a symmetry. Layer the mozzarella with the drier vegetables like the bell peppers.each 10 inch skewer should have 4 pieces of cheese so if you serve a guest half a skewer they get 2 pieces of cheese and the same vegetables.
Pour 3/4 of the sauce into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and lay the skewers in the tomato sauce.
Brush the tops of the skewers with some more vegetable oil and they the remaining tomato sauce.
Cover with foil and bake in the middle rack for about 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake again until vegetables are tender and golden.
Top with shredded Gruyere and serve warm.