Friday, April 2, 2010

Seder Sides: Vegetable Tian & Green Beans, Cucumber, Chicken Salad

Earlier this week, I went to my first seder -- my friend Deb hosted a multi-denominational seder at her apartment with a group of about 15-16.  Not only was it a great opportunity to meet some new people, but I really enjoyed learning about the traditions of a different religion.  We did an abridged version of a seder and we each took part in the readings.

For the seder, I cooked up two side dishes to accompany Deb's delish chicken with tomatoes and Danielle's matzo ball soup (mmmm, thinking about that soup makes me quite hungry now).   I spent some time searching for some tasty looking recipes and came across a vegetable tian.  I had never heard of a tian before, but it was exactly what I wanted to make -- I had wanted to put together a roasted vegetable dish, but one that didn't just look thrown together and one that incorporated not just wintery vegetables.  The dish I found, courtesy of Martha Stewart, was the perfect combination of being a bit more refined and being flexible in terms of the types of vegetables that could be used.  (And for those of you that are curious, a tian is a French dish that used to be more of a braised vegetable stew (that is cooked in a vessel called a tian) -- but nowadays, tians are more freeform casserole type dishes).  The dish called for using zucchini, one of my favorite vegetables -- and apparently, it is the favorite vegetable of many people in my area because the supermarket was completely sold out of zucchinis!  So then, I went for eggplant as a substitute.  And wouldn't you know it, when I cut into the eggplant, it was halfway rotten.  Just by luck, I had bought some portobello mushrooms the week before to make portobello mushroom burgers, and sliced those up to use instead, which turned out to a fantastic substitute (and perhaps even better than the zucchini or eggplant!).  It added a bit more oomph to the dish (and I personally love mushrooms...).  

I absolutely loved this dish.  I would make it again and again.  We had some leftovers and we were quite happy to bring some with us for lunch.  Below is the recipe and beyond that, the other side dish that we brought to the seder...

Vegetable Tian

Vegetable Tian (from Martha Stewart's mag, April 2009)
Serves 4
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8 inch thick (I used 1 1/2 portobello mushrooms)
  • 1 medium Red Bliss potato, sliced 1/8 inch thick (I used about 2 1/2 red bliss potatoes)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Add onion, garlic, and oregano, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Arrange remaining vegetables over onion mixture, alternating carrots, zucchini, and potato, and overlapping each. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Cover with parchment, then foil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes. Uncover, drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil, and roast, basting with pan juices every 10 minutes, until tian is light gold, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly; serve.

I wanted to bring a second side dish, but one that didn't take too long to make because I was cooking up both of these in the quick hours between getting off work and getting to the seder. I picked out this green bean, cucumber, and chicken salad because it literally only took 15 minutes. Plus, with the turn towards warmer weather, I thought it was a nice spring-y dish. The dish was quite quick to put together also because I used a rotisserie chicken from the market instead of poaching my own chicken -- so I de-skinned and shredded the rotisserie chicken. I also tripled the recipe because I knew we had a fairly large group coming to the seder and I wanted to set aside a bit of it for lunch this week! One rotisserie chicken was perfect for tripling the recipe.


Chicken, Green Bean, and Cucumber Salad (from Everyday Food, Jan 2010)

Serves 4

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh parsley and basil
* 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
* 4 ounces green beans
* 1 Basic Poached Chicken, breast half, cooled and torn
* 1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced
* 2 teaspoons chopped toasted almonds
* Coarse salt and ground pepper


1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lemon juice, parsley, basil, and capers. Boil green beans, trimmed, in salted water until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water; drain and add to bowl along with poached chicken, cucumber, and chopped toasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.