Popular in southern Italy, a Tiella is a beautifully layered vegetable dish that often contains tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini. Its name refers to a deep earthenware baking dish as well as anything cooked in that dish. A Tiella, however, can also be cooked in other baking dishes. Every region in Italy has their own favorite version of Tiella—variations for ingredients are plenty—but most would agree, on one thing: a Tiella should be made ahead of time for the flavors to develop and the texture to set so that it holds together when cut. It’s usually made on a summer morning while the kitchen is still cool and served for supper that night. I can confirm that the flavors only get better the next day.
As the end of summer quickly approaches, I’ve been looking for interesting ways to cook with summer vegetables. This dish was a great find! Overall, I was pleased with the result and will definitely make it again. I served it for dinner and puréed a portion so my baby could enjoy it as well, and he did!
I hesitated to post this recipe simply because I didn’t think my version and photos of Tiella did the dish justice. Although the flavor turned out very well, I thought I should make it again and possibly not broil the potatoes so long, or perhaps I could layer the vegetables differently, or… all in order to make the dish look prettier. My husband convinced me that “perfection can sometimes be the enemy”. So I decided to share my Tiella with you, despite it’s visual imperfections. Buon Appetito!
1/2 cup plus more if necessary, olive oil, divided
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red peppers, peeled and sliced
1 medium eggplant sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
2 zucchini, ends removed and sliced lengthwise
2 ripe red beefsteak tomatoes, sliced in rounds
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise, 1/4 -inch slices
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons basil, finely minced
2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2-3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
In a pan under medium heat, cook the onion slices in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until they are very soft and beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl or plate.
In a bowl with a little bit of water, soften red peppers in the microwave. Or, in the same pan used to sauté the onions, lightly sauté the red peppers until softened. Set aside.
Preheat the broiler and lightly oil a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet, and brush the tops of the slices with a little oil. Broil until fork tender and lightly browned on both sides, and then cook the zucchini and potato slices the same way.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl combine about 1/2 cup of olive oil, basil, parsley, oregano and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Lightly grease a spring-form pan and begin by laying down potato slices, slightly overlapping, to cover the bottom. Lightly brush the top of the potatoes with the oil seasoned with herbs. Begin to layer the rest of the vegetables—onions, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, and tomatoes—on top of the potatoes in the same manner, brushing each layer with a little oil and sprinkling each layer with a little cheese. Finish with a layer of potatoes.
Place the spring-form pan into a larger baking pan or dish to catch any juices that escape. Bake the Tiella for about 30 minutes. If it begins to brown too much on top, cover the top with foil. Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from pan and serving.
Optional: Garnish with a tomato (sliced thinly and shaped into a rose) and fresh herbs.
Recipe adapted from: Italian Food Forever
Martine’s Notes: This dish was fun too make, not too complicated and I loved the look of the layered vegetables and the overlapping potato slices. Preparation and baking time was approximately an hour and a half to two hours. The next time I make it I might experiment with different vegetable combinations and add tomato sauce in between the layers.