I've never been a vegetable fan. Anything weird and smooshy like zuccini or eggplant or okra just never worked with me at all - and still usually doesnt! I wasnt exactly an unhealthy child, but I was anemic at one stage, under-developed until I was about 14, and constantly getting screamed at by my mum because of my bad eating habits... she was a brilliant cook and snuck in as much veggies into food as possible in hope that i might get some into my system, but it took quite some time (like, until I was well into my 20s) for me to appreicate the importance of vegetables and the vast variety out there just oozing with goodness. This dish is a Tian - pronounced 'tyan', it is a mixture of roasted vegetables cooking in a shallow dish in the oven, usually with cheese or au gratin. This dish derives its name from the large, round, earthenware cooking pot used in Provence, France. Of course I'm just using pyrex here, but it's still good, and the recipe works in anything that can go into the oven. Consisting of mainly veggies, this dish is also quite cheap as it is nutritious - and by Egyptian standards, the ingredients in here wont even cost LE 20! Easily altered to suit a vegan lifestyle (excluding the cheese that is), a Tian is ideal for everyone by every standard possible - even the impossibly fussy anti-veggie people out there.
• 3 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 large zuccinis, sliced slightly thicker than potatoes (as they cook faster)
• 3 large tomatoes, sliced
• 2 medium onions, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon tomato puree mixed in 3/4 cup water
• Salt and pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
• 1/2 cup sharp cheese, such as cheddar
• Preheat oven to 240.C
• Genty fry onion and garlic in a non-stick pan over medium heat in olive oil until soft (about 5 to 8 minutes)
• Spread the softened onion and garlic at the bottom of your oven dish evenly
• Arranged your sliced vegetables vertically over the onion and garlic, alternating the colors.
• Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (remember anything with potatoes in it needs a generous about of salt, as during cooking, potatoes soak it up and leave the dish tasting a little bland. Don't overdo it though!)
• Pour tomato puree and water over the vegetables, and sprinkle with thyme
• Cover with foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork
• Juices should be bubbling at this point. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, and then take dish out of the oven, and sprinkle with the cheeses
• Return to the oven, bake for 10 minutes, and turn the broiler on for a few more minutes until the surface starts to bubble and brown.
• The cheese here is optional. I find it adds a creaminess to the dish as the cheese melts between the slices and into the onion bedding at the bottom. But if you're vegan, or generally don't like cheese, you can opt for going without.
• I usually make this dish with a side of brown rice, cooked in the same pan I simmered the onions and garlic in earlier. Whatever oniony-garlicky flavors left in there infuse with the rice - can't go wrong with that!