It’s not quite courgette season yet – they still need plenty of seasoning so this recipe by Escoffier (Paul Hamlyn, 1934) is perfect.
Tian de Courgettes a la Provencale
The name tian is given to a round dish, which is popular in Provence; it is about 2 inches in height and of various sizes.
4 oz rice
½ pint water
1 slice bread
Peel and thinly slice the courgettes, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook gently in the oil with the garlic. Cook the rice in the boiling water for 18 minutes. Mix the courgettes and rice together, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of grated cheese and a little chopped parsley. Put in the tian.
Dip a slice of bread into the water, press well to extract the moisture and spread over the top. Sprinkle with grated cheese, brush with oil and brown in a moderate oven.
Note: In place of the tian, a soufflé or gratin dish could be used. [Thank God!]
- I took ‘a pinch’ to mean one very small clove – probably this was more than the recipe intended.
- I cooked the courgette in a pan with the lid on for about 10 minutes – shaking it occasionally for even cooking.
- I used brown bread and as I estimated the bread was supposed to cover the top of the dish entirely, I used one and a half slices, as the loaf was small.
- I used Cheddar, although I imagine Gruyere was the intended cheese.
- I tried baking it in the oven, but got bored with waiting for it to brown sufficiently and ended up finishing it off under the grill.
- The only oval dishes I own are very large so I used a small square one. (The portion showed below is half of the amount I cooked.)
I think when people rue the prevalence of Thai red curry etc, it’s this kind of thing they miss. (Not, sadly, the fact that most such food in the UK bears little resemblance to the original dishes.) This was just so easy and satisfying. The seasoning, in particular, is fantastic – the nutmeg, courgette and cheese blend together perfectly. I wasn’t in love with the bread topping, although the brown bread I used was very light – I thought crumbs and cheese would have been more suitable but apart from that, the whole was much more than the sum. I’m also very happy with my decision to have some thick tomato sauce with it.
Baked by Elly