Farmers markets, roadside stands and bins in the grocery store are full of the ripe ingredients that combine to make recipes from La Tartine Gourmande, a new cookbook from Beatrice Peltre that emphasizes fresh, organic and seasonal cooking. The book itself features everything I like in a collection of recipes: simple directions, straightforward lists of ingredients, and beautiful photographs, thanks to the pictures taken by the author herself.
The recipes include breakfast, lunches, dinners and desserts "to inspire." They're as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to taste. And many of them, like the vegetable "tian" described below, offer a perfect alternative to meat on Meatless Monday or any day.
Serve your tian with a fresh green salad tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, a sprinkling of sea salt and a twist of cracked pepper. If your diet is gluten free, take another 5 minutes to make some whole-grain couscous. Otherwise, use a slice of whole grain bread to sop up the juices left in the bottom of your dish.
Summer Vegetable Tian
The following recipe serves 4. If that's all you need, you can still double up and freeze what you don't eat, or cover and serve again later in the week.
By the way, a "tian" is a dish from the south of France. It features layers of summer vegetables baked slowly in a low-temperature oven so that the flavors and scents of all the vegetables combine without losing their individual taste. I first tried it at a neighbor's dinner party. As delicious as it was the day it was cooked, my neighbor said it was even more flavorful the next day when the left-overs were re-heated.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme or regular thyme
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 Italian eggplants (280 g; 10 oz), sliced into thin rounds
2 zucchini (400 g; 14 oz), thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
3 to 4 ripe tomatoes (550 g; 19 1/2 oz), thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (280 g; 10 oz) (use a mandoline if you have one)
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