In Sides

Vegetable Tian

What is a tian? Well, I’m not referring to the Chinese word for sky, but the Provençal gratinée of thinly sliced vegetables. It is one of our favorite early fall recipes.

I love the way that the thin slices of veggies look, and it is always a fun time layering them. We used to make this recipe in a 9×13 baking dish, but it would get all sloppy when we served it. The other day I had a spark of inspiration for using the smaller au gratin dishes instead. They are way easier to serve, and just a bit cuter – if I do say so myself.

I love it, my mother-in-law loves it, and so will you!


Vegetable Tian

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 4


  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium red potatoes
  • 2 to 3 small zucchini
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 au gratin dishes (or a 9 x 9 baking dish)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. If necessary, grate 4 ounces Swiss cheese.
  2. Slice 2 onions and mince 4 cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, around 8 minutes. Add the garlic for one more minute.
  3. Meanwhile, brush the bottom of the au gratin dishes with olive oil. When the onions and garlic are done, spoon them into the bottom of the dishes.
  4. Slice the 4 potatoes, 2 zucchini, and 6 tomatoes into 1/8 inch slices (use a mandoline if you have one). For the thyme, remove the leaves from the stems.
  5. Season the vegetables with a few pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then place the slices in the dishes in a spiral pattern, alternating between potato, zucchini and tomato.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the vegetables with 2 tablespoons thyme and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  7. Loosely cover each baking dish with aluminum foil, then place the dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the Swiss cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the cheese is browned.


Inspired by Ina Garten

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  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 9:56 am

    looks yummy! can you make this for me sometime??

    • Reply
      September 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

      Sorry! We only make this for family and next door neighbors…

      • Reply
        September 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm

        perfect! i will expect this dish around november 11th or so?

  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Really lovely stuff you two. Your compositions and lighting are great. What are you using for your background? It seems to have some texture: a kitchen table of sorts? Are you using all natural lighting?

    Keep up the great work!

    • Reply
      September 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks Kate!

      We are taking most of the pictures on our built-in cabinets in our dining room. They are right next to the window which is perfect for natural light… though it’s getting harder to find as fall progresses!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Wow this looks really yummy! I have a pottery brie-baker that I can probably make this in for dinner for me and my husband. Maybe use a pie dish to keep the spirals instead of a 9×9? Looks great!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I’m intrigued by your images. Pleasant lighting, great composition, great color contrast between the white and the color of the vegetables. Love it!

    I’ve never heard of this dish but it look interesting. For me though, I’m not a fan of zucchini or onions so I’d probably substitute the two somehow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Fantastic! loved the presentation

  • Reply
    Jen A.
    September 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I found this recipe off of the new Tastologie blog; right away I knew it was something I’d have to print off and try! I made this tonight, and I have to say IT IS WONDERFUL!!! I’m not even a fan of onions, but I ended up eating forkfuls of them. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! :)

  • Reply
    September 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    that’s so cute.. how did you know that was the chinese word for sky! (i’m chinese) although I suppose that everybody knows a bit of everything nowadays =) this dish reminds me a little of ratatouille. what i love about this dish is that i KNOW the veggies are going to release their nice juices and mesh together to make something wonderful! definitely a weekday night recipe winner

  • Reply
    andy couple
    December 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Really look delicious!!
    First time I saw the title, I tought that tian refers to God >.<
    Because I'm a chinese :)

  • Reply
    January 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This is one of my favorite veggie side dishes… it alwasy looks so lovely as part of a dinner party spread, and it tastes amazing! Beautiful pictures, too!

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