Provençal Gratin (Tian)

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

Provençal tians are hearty gratins bound with eggs and rice. They are great cold as well as hot and the leftovers will slice up nicely, making them great lunchbox fare. I also cut the leftovers into small triangles and serve them as hors d’oeuvres.

2 or 3 eggs, (to taste)
½ cup milk (2 percent or whole), optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup cooked rice, preferably medium- or short-grain, such as Arborio
2 to 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (½ to ¾ cup), to taste
Prepared vegetables of your choice (usually 1 to 2 pounds), cooked in olive oil or roasted (sometimes blanched first), with aromatics like onion, garlic, and herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley) and seasoned (see variation recipes)
¼ cup breadcrumbs, or a mixture of breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for the top

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 2-quart baking dish, preferably earthenware or enameled cast iron, with olive oil.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the milk (if using) and about ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in the rice, shredded Gruyère, pepper to taste, and prepared vegetables. Combine thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, scraping out every last bit with a rubber spatula.
  3. Top the gratin with the breadcrumbs (or breadcrumbs and Parmesan) and drizzle with the olive oil. You can also toss the breadcrumbs with the olive oil before spreading them on top of the mixture.
  4. Bake the gratin until the sides are browned, the top is browned in places, and the gratin is sizzling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes or longer before serving.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: Gratins keep for a few days in the refrigerator and they’re good cold or at room temperature. Reheat, if you wish, in a medium oven for about 15 minutes.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS:

• Substitute 1 cup of another cooked grain, such as barley, quinoa, or millet, for the rice.
• Substitute goat cheese for the Gruyère.
• Substitute 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan for 1 ounce of the Gruyère.