courgette and spinach tian
Wed, 30 March, 2016
Tian is a Provençal dish and it's also the dish it is cooked in. Simple. And the dish is simple too: veg with cheese, to put it crudely.
What is 'tian'?
What’s a tian? In spite of sounding rather middle-Eastern or even oriental, it’s a Provençal pan made of clay, enamelled in bright colours, which they use to cook vegetable gratins in. Or, indeed, tian, as it’s also the name of the dish.
Markets of Provence
They sell tian pottery at the markets all over Provence and you can hardly pass by the stalls without stopping to admire the vivid colours, the glaze and the various shapes. Usually rectangular or oblong, shallow and bright, they are the perfect oven-to-table vessels.
If pottery wasn’t fragile and rather heavy, I’d have a collection brought over from my French voyages… As it is I need to use boring mass-produced vessels to cook my tians and everything else in.
What goes into a tian?
Tians come in all sorts, all being basically roasted vegetables with cheese. Rice is a common ingredient, sometimes potatoes are added, and spinach is a veritable tian king. Eggs are frequently added but I skipped them here except for one yolk, aiming for a less quiche-y flavour.
Spinach and courgette
Both spinach and courgette are watery vegetables so spinach needs to be blanched or wilted in the microwave and squeezed out. Courgette needs no pre-boiling; salt it and let it sit for a while to drain moisture.
A great veggie dish
It is rich enough to be served as a main course thanks to the cream and cheese but of course it is also a good side. If you're worried you'll go hungry, place a layer of cooked rice at the bottom of the dish or stir in chunks of cooked potatoes.Tiens! Un tian!
courgette and spinach tianServings: 2-3Time: 45 minutes
- 1 large courgette
- 200g fresh or frozen spinach (thawed)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- a handful of pine nuts
- 60ml double cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 30g grated hard cheese, Gruyere or Cheddar
- 20g grated Parmesan
- a little olive oil
1. Wash, top and tail the courgette and cut it into ribbons or noodles on a mandolin or in a spiralizer. Sprinkle with salt, stir it around and place in a colander for at least 10 minutes. After that time rinse it with cold water, squeeze out as much moisture as you can without squashing the courgette, and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Rinse the spinach, if using fresh, and wilt it in a microwave or blanch briefly in boiling water. When cool, squeeze out the liquid and chop finely.
3. Mix the cream with the egg yolk and add the hard cheese. In a bowl mix the courgette with spinach, pine nuts, garlic and spring onions and most of the Parmesan. Pour over the cream mixture and stir through.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
5. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a tian or gratin dish, transfer the vegetables into it and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until brown and bubbling. Best serve very warm, instead of piping hot.