Provençal Tian and Cottage Cheese Filled Crepes

A layered sea of vegetables.

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March 09, 2021

Prep: 20min

Cook: 1h 20min

Serves: 4

The gist.

Spending at least an hour in the oven, the flavors of the layered tomato, onion, and eggplant will gracefully blend with the added seasonings and olive oil to create a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece. Bring the meal to completion with a delectable serving of cottage cheese filled crepes.

Check out this fun rabbit hole. I was doing a bit of googling about the word tian, and discovered on the great Wikipedia that Tian is a popular surname in mainland China. Reading about Tian as a surname, I found out that there is a South African rugby player named Tian Meyer. He’s only six months older than me. Who knew. He plays for a team called the Cheetahs. They wear black shorts and orange socks as part of their uniforms. And with that, I put an abrupt end to my rabbit hole journey.

For today’s context, the word tian refers to the layered vegetable dish you are about to make. This can be a little confusing, because tian also refers to a literal, physical dishware made out of clay. What do folks in southern France traditionally cook in a clay tian? Well, tian, of course. See the confusion? If you own a clay dish in a truncated cone shape, the typical tian shape, feel free to cook today’s recipe in it. If you don’t (I don’t), a glass, ceramic, metal, or cast iron dish, combined with a watchful eye over the cooking time in the oven, will do just fine.

So, a tian in the French region of Provence is a baked dish usually consisting of layered vegetables. Usually no liquid, other than what is naturally found in the vegetables or other ingredients, is added to the dish. A few good slugs of oil, some seasonings, and the heat of the oven takes care of the rest. I know, I know, tis not quite the best season for many of the ingredients in this recipe, but my local winter was interrupted this past weekend with near summer temperatures, and I think I’m seasonally confused.

You don’t need a mandolin, but try extra hard to cut those vegetable slices super thin. A little focus and bit of patience can go a long way when slicing vegetables. Try it. When you arrange the vegetables in layers, have fun. If you search “tian provençal,” you’ll see many beautiful, circular arrangements. Another option is to layer the vegetables in rows in a rectangular dish. It doesn’t matter so much the shape or arrangement as long as the vegetables are layered and cut sufficiently thin.

The last tip regarding the tian is to keep it in the oven long enough. Long enough might be longer than you predict. It’s worth the wait. The tian is ready when the vegetables are melt-in-your-mouth tender. If you try to rush things, you’ll end up with an undercooked tian, and no one wants that.

Alongside the tian, you will be making cottage cheese filled crepes. Eating the tian alone isn’t a bad thing to do per se, but bringing in the crepe component rounds out today’s dish into a complete meal.

My suggestion is to initially put all your energy and attention into getting the tian into the oven. Once in, you’ll have at least an hour before chow time. This gives you ample time to make a nice stack of crepes, fill and roll them, and probably even be able to wash a few dishes before your oven timer dings.

Ingredients

  • Tian
  • Crepes

Steps

(click each step as you go to keep track of your progress)

  • Tian
  • Crepes

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Provençal Tian and Cottage Cheese Filled Crepes

  • Prep time: 20min
  • Cook time: 1h 20min
  • Serving size: 4
Spending at least an hour in the oven, the flavors of the layered tomato, onion, and eggplant will gracefully blend with the added seasonings and olive oil to create a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece. Bring the meal to completion with a delectable serving of cottage cheese filled crepes.

INGREDIENTS

  • *Tian
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 45 mL (3 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
  • *Crepes
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 mL (1/2 cup) water
  • 120 mL (1/2 cup) milk
  • 30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil + more for cooking
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 120 g (1 cup) flour
  • 400 g (14 oz) cottage cheese
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

STEPS

  1. *Tian

  2. Preheat oven to 190° C (375° F). Grab a 22x33 cm (9x13 in) casserole pan or a 30 cm (12 in) diameter baking dish. I usually use my 12 in cast iron skillet. Peel the garlic clove and use some elbow grease to rub the garlic on the bottom and sides of the pan.

  3. Slice the eggplant, onion, and tomatoes into 6 mm (1/4 in) rounds. Arrange the slices how you want in your selected pan. You can use the photo on this page as a reference if using a round pan. Otherwise, just layer the slices so that they look beautiful.

  4. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the vegetable slices. Sprinkle the thyme, oregano, and salt evenly over everything. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for 50 minutes. Begin to prepare the crepes.

  5. Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle parsley on top, and serve immediately.

  6. *Crepes

  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, water, milk, olive oil, and mustard. The liquid ingredients can also be combined using an immersion blender.

  8. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and use your whisk, fork, or immersion blender to stir until evenly combined.

  9. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add about 5 mL (1 tsp) olive oil. Pour in about 80 mL (1/3 cup) of the crepe batter and quickly rotate the pan to swirl the batter evenly across the pan bottom.

  10. Let the crepe cook 30-60 seconds and then use a spatula to flip the crepe. Cook for another 30-60 seconds until the crepe is cooked through and both sides are light brown. Repeat with remaining crepe batter.

  11. Fill each crepe with a generous amount of cottage cheese. Sprinkle desired amount of black pepper over cottage cheese and roll the crepe up. Serve alongside the tian.

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