All that Tesco’s shopping has sent me kicking and screaming to the South of France, at least in terms of recipe ideas. A tian, according to Larousse Gastronomique is ‘an earthenware ovenproof dish from Provence…used to prepare all kinds of gratin dishes’. I’ve had a recipe for several such gratins knocking around on a bit of paper for years so it was time to try one or two of them. The great thing about them is that they mostly involve slicing up/cooking some vegetables, sautéing some onions, combining the two and baking them for a while. And they’re adaptable: I made this one as a starter for three, but with some bread and a dessert it would feed two people for dinner. The combination of spinach and cream/eggs is well known but the raisins add a delicious gentle sweetness. Oh and obviously it doesn’t matter where the dish comes from; the one I used was earthenware, ovenproof and square as per Provençal tradition but, ironically, I think I bought it from Tesco’s in Cardiff…
For three as a starter, two (with bread) as a main, you will need:
Cupboard (or things you might have)
1 medium onion
25g unsalted butter
Pinch of ground nutmeg or a tiny bit of whole nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and black pepper
400g spinach (looks a lot for two-three but it shrinks to nothing)
15g raisins (a large tablespoonful)
1 tablespoon or so of flat-leaf parsley
100ml cream (she specifies double, I used whipping so I think it’s fine to use what you have, or can get)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon (15ml or so) olive oil
1. Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3.
2. Peel and chop the onion.
3. Wash the spinach thoroughly in several rinses of water, getting rid of any yellow or sorry-looking leaves/stalks.
4. Bring a pan of water to the boil, or fill one with boiling water from the kettle, then, once at a boil, put all of the spinach leaves into the pan and cook for about a minute. Drain the leaves in a colander or sieve, cool them in some cold water then squeeze them either with your hands or with a spoon against the sides of the colander/sieve to remove as much of the water as you can.
5. Next heat the butter in a largish frying pan, add the onions and fry until soft then add the raisins, the nutmeg and a little salt and pepper.
6. Chop up the drained, cooled spinach and the parsley and add to the onions then, off the heat, stir in the cream and egg yolk.
7. Finally drizzle or spoon the olive oil into the bottom of your dish, add the spinach mixture then bake for about 15-20 minutes until bubbling and starting to go a little golden at the edges. I served this, as Luard suggests, at room temperature and it was, even in London not France, absolutely delicious.