"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Monday, July 5, 2010

Open-faced Tian Sandwich

I got the idea for this recipe from a sandwich cookbook (Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book), but I changed some of the ingredients and preparation instructions to give it more flavor and make it easier to cook properly. I first made a tian when I was studying abroad in Arles, France. We stayed at a cooking school and studied the local foods and recipes of Provence. Making a tian can be very time-consuming, but yields a wonderful result! A tian, similar to a casserole, is both the name of the dish used for baking and the food inside the dish. The dish is usually a large rectangular earthenware dish - the food is a layered vegetable gratin (see picture). So, to make this sandwich, I layered the vegetables on slices of sourdough bread and then baked the bread and vegetables in a tian in the oven. I loved how it turned out - the flavors were amazing! I will definitely be making this again, even though it took several hours to put together! This is a great summer sandwich!

Open-faced Tian Sandwich
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half through the root and sliced into 1/8 inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds
2 crookneck yellow squashes, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds (don't use the skinny parts)
2 or 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick rounds
4 tablespoons of your favorite tapenade or pesto
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4-6 slices of fresh sour dough bread
Freshly grated Parmesean

In a small skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. When the onions begin to turn color, add a splash or so of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan and prevent them from burning. Continue cooking over medium heat about 20 minutes more, until the oinons are very soft and evenly caramelized. Stir in the sherry, and remove from heat.

As the onions are cooking, heat a small skilled over medium high heat. Place the peppers, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Saute these ingredients for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until they are soft and tender.

Add the caramelized onions to the peppers, stir in 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and remove from heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a large baking dish (stoneware or glass will work best) with a little olive oil. Spread the tapenade or pesto evenly over the bread slices. Place them close together in the baking dish. Distribute the onion and pepper mixture over each slice.

At one end of the bread, place a round of yellow squash over the onion and pepper mixture. Then, place a tomato slice next to the squash, overlapping it about an inch. Follow the same procedure with a slice of the zucchini. Continue layering these ingredients until you reach the end of the bread slice - include as many vegetable pieces on each slice as possible!

Brush the vegetables with the remaining olive oil. Distribute the garlic, thyme leaves, and remaining salt over the vegetables. Cover the baking dish with foil and cook for one hour. Remove the foil and cook for 30 minutes more. The vegetables should be wrinkled and lightly browned - the salt pulls the liquid out of the vegetables so they will flatten out some on the bread. The longer you cook this dish, the better the flavors become! As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle with Parmesan so that it melts. Serve warm. These sandwiches will easily reheat in the oven to make great leftovers!

1 comment:

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