Eggplant Tian: Easy and Delicious Summer Dish

Take a look at this video and you’ll learn a new ,wonderful, super-easy eggplant dish for your summer dinners. It’s called a Tian and it comes from the south of France. Yes, sometimes the simple, most basic things are the most rewarding.  This is one of my favorite dishes – rustic, country-French, Provencal.  I make it only in the summer, when the fresh basil is abundant and local, as are the vine-ripened tomatoes.  Like all good things, you must gather the best, freshest ingredients you can find, and the rest will come naturally.  The Tian is a wonderful meal made up of hardly anything, but apicture few vegetables.  It’s a burst of Southern France, flavors that are rich but fresh, a savory, tender, almost creamy concoction of eggplant, tomatoes, onions and basil, perfumed with that king of cheeses that is Parmigiano Reggiano, and anointed with excellent extra-virgin olive oil. This is a complete light meal, if you serve it with crusty Italian or French bread (and yes, a baguette will be wonderful too), or add this casserole as a side dish to almost any kind of meat of chicken preparation.  Okay, it’s a bit time-consuming (but not really, if you love food).  I arrange plates of sliced onions, tomatoes and eggplant on my kitchen table, turn on the oven and the cd player (indeed, a little Jovanotti enhances the pleasure of the process), and get my favorite casserole, a large, oval Pyrex dish with fairly high sides.  Do you have one of those fabulous Emile Henry pieces ? Do use it now: it will make the Tian even more authentic and festive (love the cerise red!). I layer carefully, gently, trying to make the strata pretty even, so that each bite has the same anticipated flavor of a summer in Nice, languid and sensual, redolent of the essence of Provence.  I love to sprinkle on that Parmigiano, and, oh yes, quite generously.  Then I pour on the olive oil, liquid gold maybe even more precious, perfumed with the breezes passing through Mediterranean olive groves.  Let it flow, and dream of a villa on the Côte d’Azure, a set table on a terrace with the view of the bluest, most sparkly sea you’ve ever seen.  And many more days ahead, just like this one.  While it cooks ever so slowly in that gentle heat, the vegetables will meld together, and the aroma will begin to seep from the oven – enticing, homey yet exciting.  So clearly comfort food, even if you aren’t French.  Click here to make your own summer Tian .


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