If you have seen the animated film Ratatouille you will know that Remy, the rat, shows the kitchen porter how to make a ratatouille. Real ratatouille connoisseurs, however, will have immediately recognized that it is actually not a ratatouille at all, but a typical tian. Both ratatouille and tian use the same vegetables; the main difference is in the cooking technique. A "real" ratatouille requires cooking the vegetables individually, before bringing all the elements together at the end; a tian is an artful arrangement of vegetable slices, which is baked like a gratin. It's a simplified, and more often than not better-looking, version of ratatouille.
4 red onions, finely sliced 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 firm tomatoes (plum tomatoes work well)
Pinch of salt
a 7 1/2-inch round ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saute pan over medium heat, fry the onions, garlic, and thyme in 2 tablespoons of the oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden. Meanwhile, very finely slice the eggplant and zucchini crosswise (1/16-inch thick). Use a mandoline or the slicer on the side of a box grater if you have one. Slice the tomatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices.
Pour the onion-thyme mixture into the ovenproof dish and top with a few slices of the vegetables to make a flat surface. Arrange the rest of the sliced vegetables, alternating the colors, in a circular arrangement around the dish. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and golden on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This can be made 1 day in advance and eaten at room temperature or reheated in a 325 degree F oven at for 20 to 30 minutes.
"My Little French Kitchen" by Rachel Khoo. Copyright Chronicle Books 2014. Provided courtesy of Rachel Khoo. All rights reserved.