Zucchini and potato tian
A rustic baked gratin of eggs, vegetables, cheese and more.
Here’s a French variation of Italian frittata and Persian eggah, the tian. You can also call it a gratin. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Elizabeth David, and I found it in her essay collection “Is There a Nutmeg in the House?” It’s a simple combination of eggs and vegetables, often flavored with cheese or garlic, then baked. You can substitute chard or spinach for the zukes, use the same measure of cooked rice instead of potatoes. Season as you like. It’s a rustic dish that you can adapt to the ingredients you have on hand. I like to serve this tian as the main dish at dinner, adding a leafy salad and a small cheese platter to round out the meal.
I bake tians in a Moroccan clay tagra, which you see pictured above – but an 8-inch baking pan works as well. I don’t peel the potatoes and zucchini because I prefer their flavor and appearance that way.
- 2 cups cubed, cooked potatoes, still hot
- 1 cup grated zucchini, still hot
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, chives or cilantro
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or other dry, sharp cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 5 eggs
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 300° F (150° C).
Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the baking pan and add the hot potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix gently and place in the oven to stay warm while you prepare the zucchini.
Cook the grated zucchini in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes, covered, in a skillet. Season to taste. Turn heat off, but keep skillet covered.
Raise oven heat to 375° F (190° C).
Beat the eggs until frothy, in a large bowl. Add the chopped parsley, cheese, more seasoning if desired, and zucchini. Gently stir in the warm potatoes.
Pour the mass into the baking pan immediately and sprinkle a little more olive oil over the top. Or dot with tiny dabs of butter, for luxury’s sake. Either way, put the tian in the oven right away, or the eggs will rise to the top and the dish will have two separate layers instead of being “integrated,” as Mrs. David says.
Bake the tian for 25-30 minutes.