I’m not gonna lie: I’m not a huge fan of zucchini. At least, I wasn’t. This recipe converted me. I literally cannot stop eating it, and as soon as one batch is gone I’ve got another one in the works. I even converted my husband, who turned his nose up at first but agreed to try “just one bite.” He proceeded to go back for seconds and thirds.
The recipe first caught my eye when I was looking for a way to enjoy fresh zucchini without having to make breads and cakes with it. Having read that this recipe helped win its chef an Iron Chef competition, I thought it was worth a try. And I can see why it won! I wish I could explain why it’s so amazing, but I can’t: it’s just an extraordinary example of the culinary magic that occurs when using simple, fresh and in-season ingredients.
2 small potatoes, peeled
2½ pounds mixed zucchini/summer squash
1 large red onion
2 fresh tomatoes (peeled, if desired)
¾ cup bread crumbs (not panko)
3-4 tablespoons melted butter
½ to ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Dutch oven or other heavy, round casserole dish (don’t use cast iron unless it’s enameled)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, thinly slice potatoes, zucchini, squash and tomatoes into rounds (about 1/8” to almost 1/4” thick) and thinly slice red onion into half rings.
Add a few tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven (enough to generously coat the bottom), and arrange all of the potato slices in a concentric, overlapping shingle pattern, starting along the outside and working toward the middle. Season with a pinch of salt and place in oven for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes start to turn translucent and bubble and the edges are lightly browned. Do not completely brown them or they will blacken later.
In the same concentric, overlapping pattern layer the zucchini on top of the cooked potatoes; drizzle about 2-3 teaspoons olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper. Next, create a layer of summer squash, seasoning again with 2-3 teaspoons olive oil, then salt and pepper. Add a layer of the red onion, seasoning again with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Repeat the layers of zucchini, squash and onion until everything is used up, seasoning each layer with olive oil, salt and pepper. Press down in the middle from time to time to prevent “doming.”
Top with a concentric, overlapping layer of sliced tomatoes. Top generously with bread crumbs and drizzle butter all over.
Bake for 3 hours and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe from chef Garbrielle Hamilton’s Prune cookbook.
Yield: approximately 12 8-ounce servings
Step by Step Details
Buy an assortment of zucchini and summer squash varieties.
Start by getting everything sliced. I used my mandolin on the thickest setting, which got everything just under 1/4” thick. Any thinner and it can get a little mushy. Slice each vegetable and place in separate bowls.
Pour 2-3 tablespoons olive oil into the baking dish and arrange all of the potato slices in a concentric, overlapping pattern, kind of like shingles, starting along the outside and working toward the middle; season with a pinch of salt (about half of 1/8 teaspoon). (Note that I now slice my potatoes thicker than these.)
Place in oven for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes start to turn translucent and bubble and the edges are lightly browned. Do not let them get too browned or they will blacken later.
In the same concentric, overlapping pattern layer the zucchini on top of the cooked potatoes; drizzle with about 2-3 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (I mixed my salt and pepper together and used about 1/4 teaspoon on every layer.)
Next, create a layer of summer squash, seasoning again with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add a layer of the red onion, seasoning again with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Repeat the layers of zucchini, squash and onion until everything is used up, seasoning each layer with olive oil, salt and pepper. Press down in the middle from time to time to prevent “doming.”
Top with a concentric, overlapping layer of sliced tomatoes.
Top generously with the bread crumbs and drizzle the butter all over.
Bake for 3 hours. Really. I know it seems like way too long, but the one time I tried a shorter bake time, it just didn’t have the full flavor it did before. Trust me on this. It will compress down as it bakes, leaving behind some really tasty brown bits clinging to the side.
Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. It needs this time to settle and allow the flavors to meld. To serve, slice into fourths and carefully remove the first fourth.
Cut each fourth into two or three pieces to serve.
Don’t worry if it all topples over. Garnish it with an edible flower and no one will care. It will still taste just as delicious!
To store leftovers, or if making ahead, allow to cool completely before refrigerating.
TIP: The tian is even better after a day or two, so it’s a great make-ahead dish!
7 thoughts on “Zucchini Tian”
I love a tian and am always looking for new ideas … I will certainly try this because it looks utterly scrumptious 🙂
I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!
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Hi Diane, greetings from Somerset UK. I was recently given an enormous home grown courgette by a friend, rather rudely shaped as it happened, After discovering what a zucchini was (American English!!! It’s a courgette!) I realised your latest blog was a way to use it. Other than using butternut squash rather than summer squash, I did it!
What a fabulous result! Thank you! I will cook this again using normal sized zucchini (see how easy we Brits can pick up the lingo!). Keep up the good work, I am an avid follower and recommending your site to other Somerset cooks.
Hi, May I ask you questions about this? I made it the other night, and it was very good. Are the veggies supposed to get roasted? or just soft? Will it ‘meld’ together? or just be separate layers? (I am going to make this again, I may add corn kernels and okra). We really enjoyed this.
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Hello! I think the zucchini, squash and tomatoes make it too wet to really roast and get browned. They just soften and all the ingredients meld together, as the layers are really too thin — especially after cooking and condensing down — to stay very striated. Glad you enjoyed this, and I love your idea of adding other vegetables next time!
Thanks! (I was worried you might not get notified about my comment). 🙂 We really did enjoy it. I think I need to slice the veggies thinner, I may have gotten them too thick.
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