Summer Vegetable Tian

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I first saw the idea for a vegetable tian in an issue of Martha Stewart magazine many years ago. It looked hard. And fussy. I didn’t have a food processor, but I did have a little baby, and the thought of slicing all those vegetables seemed out of the question–who had the time? But things change, right? A few weeks ago, I saw another recipe on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a try. I have a trusty food processor now, making all that slicing easy. And that little baby is 13, so I can use sharp cutting tools without too much worry. Perfect timing!

A vegetable tian is basically thinly sliced vegetables that are stacked, seasoned and roasted until tender. Then topped with some cheese and baked until melty. This is a reasonably healthy, tasty and pretty dish–perfect for a dinner party or holiday dinner since it looks so fancy. Although we had this as a side dish, it would make a terrific vegetarian entree if you subbed the Parmesan cheese for soy cheese!

For our tian, I used late summer vegetables that I had handy–zucchini, purple potatoes and Roma tomatoes. I would have used yellow squash, but we had eaten it all. Ditto for the eggplant. The next time I make this, I’ll probably add some yellow squash and onion slices for some added flavor. And I may leave out the tomatoes since I am the only tomato fanatic in the house. You could make this with any vegetables you have handy as long as they can be sliced thin (sorry, broccoli, you’re on the sidelines for this one).

Looking ahead (although I am still not finished with summer), a fall version with sweet potatoes and squash would be pretty phenomenal–maybe drizzled with maple syrup!

While my “little one” isn’t so little anymore, I wonder if smaller children would love to see the animated movie Ratatouille, followed by helping to make the vegetable stacks for the pan. Maybe that would increase interest in eating vegetables??? This is one dish that involves some fun and creativity in the prep work!

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Summer Vegetable Tian (makes 8 servings)

  • 2 zucchini, washed and trimmed
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, washed and trimmed
  • 1 quart purple potatoes, scrubbed and trimmed
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • Ground, black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
  3. Slice all vegetables to equal thickness (ours were on the thinnest setting of the food processor).
  4. Arrange vegetables in stacks within the baking dish–I used a little pattern, but you could be random–whatever works for you.
  5. When all your vegetables are safely tucked in, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cover and roast for about 30-40 minutes. Vegetables should be soft.
  6. Uncover, top with cheese and bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta

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I have found myself both busy and distracted in the past few weeks, and as a result, I haven’t been posting (or cooking) as much as I would like. Life is like that–full of surprises, choices, decisions and turning points. I’m feeling pretty good about some decisions I’ve made lately, although they have taken my attention away from SOLE Food Kitchen for just a teeny minute. I’m trying to get back in the groove!

This dish is a wonderful vegetarian creation based on the dish ratatouille, although it’s a bit messier than the neatly sliced and arranged dish. It is hearty, but not heavy and, if you use soy cheese (or no cheese), it is also a vegan dish. We served just the vegetable mix as a side dish with fish this week and served the leftovers over organic bucatini pasta–a thicker, chewier version of spaghetti. You could use any vegetables you want in this dish as long as they are fresh. We used the traditional eggplant, tomatoes, fennel, onions and garlic. It was very good, and used up a lot of vegetables we had from our Produce Box this week.

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta (makes about 6 serving)

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small fennel bulb, washed and sliced thin
4 medium or large tomatoes, washed, trimmed and quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and stems removed
1 large eggplant, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. bucatini pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.
Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until onions start to soften (do not let the garlic brown).
Add the fennel and continue cooking another 1-2 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to keep garlic from scorching.
Add the quartered tomatoes and sauté for about 3 minutes or until tomatoes start to release their juices.
Add eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Season with herbs, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add capers, stir well. Correct for seasoning, if necessary.
Season boiling pasta water with a generous amount (3 tablespoons) of salt. Cook pasta according to directions (the bucatini take about 8 minutes).
Drain pasta and toss with the vegetable mixture.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan or soy cheese.

Roasted Okra

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When I say “okra”, people either respond positively or wrinkle up their faces and express their hate for “slimy” vegetables. Few people are undecided about okra. The funny thing is, when fried or roasted, okra has none of the viscous texture that it has when sautéed or stewed (I still like it that way, too, though!). We found that roasting okra in the oven makes for a crispy and delicious summer side dish that has the crunch of fried okra without the fat (or the mess). We have roasted okra as a french fry replacement with sandwiches and with grilled food. Here we are having it with BLT sandwiches with local bacon. All the yummy, salty crunch of fried food, but with fiber and vitamins, instead of fat. A summer win-win!

Roasted Okra (makes 3-4 side servings)

  • 1 quart of okra (younger, smaller pods will be more tender)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional).
  2. Trim the stem ends of the pods and wash the okra.
  3. Dry well with a tea towel and put the dry okra in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add oil and salt to the bowl and toss so all the okra is coated.
  5. Spread okra across the baking sheet in one layer.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir okra. Roast for another 15 minutes or until okra is crispy and browned (your timing will depend on the size of the okra pods).
  7. Serve hot.
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