One of the best and worst things about my lunchtime pilgrimages to the Union Square farmers' market is that I go overboard. It didn't seem that a bunch of radishes and two zucchinis would be too much for one meal - my future cause of death will patently be "produce overdose" - but that opinion changed once I sliced everything up at home.
I don't even remember what my original plan was for these, but looking down at a massive bowl of zucchini and radish rounds, I recalled seeing a beautiful summer tian recipe - it looked like a potato au gratin dish with many more colorful vegetables. Trusty ol' Wikipedia succinctly said that a "tian can be described as a gratin in the Provençal style." Done and done. Tians very commonly include goat cheese, but neither of mine did. Tant pis. I made two: one with herbs and feta cheese and one with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
I started the first iteration with a glass pie dish and made an outer ring of zucchini. Pro tip that I learned the hard way? The slices will not stand up against the sides if there's nothing holding them up from the center. They all fell flat until I started to stuff in some of the radishes. Once I got more into the middle of the dish, the zucchinis stayed propped up - I just added more of the rounds to fill in any gaps. I also sliced up a small onion and used half of those in the center. I topped it with Herbs de Provence and feta cheese.
For the second, I just did vertical layers - the rest of the onion on the bottom, the rest of the radishes in the middle, and the rest of the zucchini on top. I blanketed the top with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs.
I planned on baking both but reserving the Parmesan version for another night. I envisioned it as a side dish to some meatballs or some roasted eggplant. I popped both into a 350° oven for about 30 minutes.
I quickly changed my mind about saving the Parmesan tian.
Mind made up, I'd obviously save the feta tian for another night - except how could I honestly say no to this watercolor painting exquisiteness?
I went for it and
The chicken was chicken. The tians were both vehicles for getting some much beloved zucchini into my belly and they were incredibly delicious vehicles. The vegetables in the more Provençal version were tender and perfectly highlighted by the Herbs de Provence. I would have liked a meltier cheese than the feta, but I still loved the bold salty punch of flavor. The Parmesan version was crunchy and cheesy. It truly reminded me of a great eggplant parmesan dish without any tomato sauce. The sweet radishes and onions underneath were a great flavor and texture contrast to the golden brown top layer.
There was not a single bite left of the crumby/Parm version, but I used up the other for Saturday breakfast. I scrambled a few eggs, poured them over the top, and baked at 300° for about 15 until the eggs set.
Next time, I want to use goat cheese or another cheese that really melts well across the top. I also could have made one large tian in a lasagna or casserole dish, which is likely my plan for the next time this side dish pops up on my menu. I hope some of you have been inspired by these couple of French dishes and enjoy your Bastille Day!!!