Time to Tian

In the words of Walter Sobchak, “Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one who gives a s**t about the rules?”

It was my understanding that roses were not supposed to come out until June. Yet my street is lined with unfolding blooms the size of cabbages, releasing a smell that almost knocks me down when I run past.

I’ve been trying to reconcile myself to this strange and wonderful reality. I remind myself that this is the land of eternal sunshine. Our children surf at the age of three; our roses bloom in the beginning of April. Is that really so bad? Deep breaths. (Of rose perfume.)

But summer squash showing up? Now? This isn’t ‘Nam, Smokey; there are rules. To wit, summer squash should only come out in summer—I mean, what is a name for if you’re just going to flout it completely?

And these delicate little fingers of custardy sweet flavor, precious as a newborn kitten and tender as creme brulee—what are we supposed to do with them?

It’s time to tian.

Originating in Provence, a tian is a French word that describes a shallow earthenware casserole as well as the food it contains—normalement, a variety of vegetables, herbs and cheeses that are layered and then baked. But for these diminiutive little courgettes, you want to keep it really really simple. Just a couple of summertime herbs and some olive oil, and if you’re really jonesing for it, you can grate a tiny bit of stinky cheese over the top.
Baby Summer Squash Tian
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 diced onion
1 diced garlic clove
3 cups preserved plum tomatoes
2 tsp snipped basil
1 tsp snipped oregano
1 tsp snipped thyme
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 lb baby summer squash, sliced
1 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.
Stir in the plum tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Combine well and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow baking dish.
Top with the sliced baby summer squash.
Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil. Garnish with Italian parsley and serve.

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