It was a recipe I’d been saving for just such a moment. It was stuck to the fridge with a magnet, getting spotty with splashes and splatters from the sink, wrinkly from the vapors of steaming pots and sizzling pans.
It was one of those tear-out recipe cards from a Martha Stewart magazine, so of course the picture was luscious and perfect in that casual, unstudied, flooded with natural light, Hamptons kind of way that makes you want to chuck out all your furniture and start over with a fresh new color scheme that changes with every season so that your perfect children are filled with wonder and delight every time they come back from their posh boarding school for a long weekend with their equally perfect friends.
Ergo, when the moment came and I had my opportunity to emulate those graceful denizens of the airy heights of impeccable style in my own small way, well of course I had to seize it!
Piles of late summer vegetables were languishing (I think this new world of mine needs to “languish” a lot, don’t you?) on the counter, in need of some using. And as it happens, they were just the vegetables I needed for that bloody vegetable tian Martha recipe that has been languishing on my fridge for two years like an accusation. And as it happens, the recipe was pretty easy, as long as you are somewhat competent with a knife. It didn’t require anything odd or fashionable.
All of my veggies were farm fresh and organic (score one for au courant lifestyle) from our CSA (Restoration Farm) and even better, some of the tomatoes were actually from my garden (big Martha points)! I lose a couple of points because at some time during that very dry August my thyme died of thirst and I had to resort to the powdered kind but let’s not let that make us lose momentum.
So, if you have piles of late summer veggies laying around waiting for a purpose, try this. Crazy-ass mostly-vegan diet dad, unpredictable mom, veggie-loving Madrina, and I loved it and since it serves eight, it made for some wonderful leftovers. This is terrifically satisfying vegetarian food with good fats and loads of flavor and texture. And for a few moments my inner Martha manifested, flooded with natural light!
Provençal Vegetable Tian (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 Cups thinly sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed well (1 large leek)
1 Yukon Gold potato (8 ounces), sliced 1/4 inch thickς
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb eggplant trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (skinny Asian eggplant or Italian eggplant both work, but you may want to partially peel Italian eggplant if it is thick-skinned)
1 lb summer squash (zucchini, pattypan or yellow) sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (or whatever tomatoes you have)
1/4 cup pitted black olives, sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, divided, plus more for garnish or 1 tsp thyme, dry
Preheat oven to 450°F. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Layer half the leeks in dish, then cover with half the potato; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Top with a layer each of half the eggplant, half the squash and half the tomatoes; season with 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Scatter with half the olives and half the thyme. Drizzle with 2 Tbs oil. Repeat layering and seasoning with remaining vegetables. Drizzle with remaining oil, and cover loosely with foil.
Bake 20 minutes, then remove foil. Press vegetables down with a spatula, and bake until potato is tender and edges are well caramelized, about 45 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.