July 14, 2010
We have a tiny kitchen with, I’d estimate, no more than five square feet of workable counter space. On the positive, it’s a charming space, with 1930′s black and white tile walls and white cabinets. But a cook’s kitchen it’s not, which is why I’m grateful for the small breakfast nook adjoining the kitchen to the dining room. It’s here, in this mere eight by six foot space, where the majority of the real work happens. The chopping, the assembling, the serving. It’s my favorite room in the house, hands down. In it stands our chair-less “breakfast table”, beneath which sit three large baskets to house pots and cooking utensils that I can’t seem to cram into our sparse cabinet space no matter how Martha-Stewart-organized I try to be. It’s a sanctuary, of sorts. A space meant for one. This is where Kyle usually finds me upon arriving home from work, flitting back and forth from nook to stove, nook to fridge. It’s the space I find myself standing, balancing on my left leg, right foot propped up on my left calf, hip leaning against the table, after sitting all day at my desk. Chopping and dicing. Cooking therapy. In front of my work table (the walnut stained table you see in the majority of my photos) is a western facing window. Most evenings this assures some form of daylight is streaming through, illuminating the room and the food in front of me. Even after a long workday, I am not filled with dread at the thought of making dinner (most days, anyways). Rather I am content to stand in a silent house, save the sound of sizzling onions and garlic in the kitchen, setting sun before me, slicing summer squash and potatoes into thin coins, arranging them into a tian.
This requires a little patience, just a bit. Use a rectangular baking dish and arrange the vegetables in rows instead. Or, just toss all the vegetables together and call it a summer squash bake. But then your significant other won’t comment on the beautiful presentation, which may or may not come off as sarcastic, possibly because dinner wasn’t on the table until 8:30. Hey, my tian therapy session took a little longer than expected.
Summer Squash Tian
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb zucchini
- 1 lb yellow squash
- 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 2 tsp dried herbes de Provence*
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium round or rectangular baking dish.
Heat 1 T olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook 2 minutes. Spread cooked onions and garlic in the bottom of prepared baking dish.
Slice the zucchini, squash and potatoes crosswise into 1/4th inch thick coins. Keep each vegetable in separate bowls. To each vegetable, add about 1-2 tsp olive oil, 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt, a sprinkling of black pepper and 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence, and toss to coat.
Arrange in a single layer, alternating vegetables, on top of onion mixture. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and continue to cook, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender and cheese is light golden brown. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
*If you don’t have herbes de Provence, substitute a combination of thyme, marjoram, rosemary and/or savory.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish.