Here is a personal favorite, a tian of ripe summer vegetables at their peak—layers of small heirloom tomatoes, sweet bulb onions, thin-skinned eggplant, and fresh salty cheese such as ricotta or chèvre. I like to prepare this tian in the morning and serve it no sooner than 6 hours after it has emerged from the oven, allowing time for the flavors to meld. It should be left at room temperature; refrigeration diminishes the taste.
My method of setting the tian in a preheated clay-lined oven and then, at the appropriate time, turning the oven off and allowing the tian to set for an additional thirty minutes in the receding heat simulates the way food cooks in a traditional wood-burning oven. That is, first the food is cooked in the hottest part over the wood fire; then the tian is moved to the coolest part of the oven to finish the development of its topping.
A 9- or 10-inch round earthenware baking dish or pie dish
Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2009 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Ed Anderson. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.