Cheap Easy Meals – Vegetable Tian Recipe

Another cheap one of those quick healthy meals you can customise easily depending on what’s in the fridge or garden.   This is very loosely based on a recipe my mother makes regularly.  She followed a proper recipe for Spinach & Courgette Tian which is wonderful.  I am the only courgette (sorry zucchini) lover in our house so tend to make it with other vegetables instead.

The addition of a few rashers of streaky bacon adds some more texture and a cheap way of convincing carnivores they’re not being too hard done by.  More often than not I leave the meat out, so vegetarians please do the same.  This is not a fully detailed recipe, it depends what you have hanging around.  I have used leftover portions of rice & mince mixtures used for stuffing cabbages previously and then stashed in the freezer to really vary the taste.  Similarly I have used left over rice salad to ring the changes too.  Although rice is not a safe thing to have hanging around warm, it is okay to cool it and reheat the following day or from frozen so long as it gets very hot.

We enjoy this with a green salad and some crusty bread or a baked potato.  It is possibly even better the following day served cold as part of a picnic style lunch.

I’ll give you the exact ‘recipe’ I used the other night to make this simple & tasty supper, but adapt and change as you like.

This will feed four easily.  If you are cooking for fewer people just keep some for the next days lunch.  Anyway – on with the guidelines / recipe:

Vegetable Tian – Ingredients

  • Rice.  I use one large cup of white basmati.  It is good and even healthier if you use brown.  Check in Asian grocery stores for basmati rice of better quality and price than the average supermarket.
  • Vegetables.  I used a bowl of spinach beet and another bowl of freshly picked mixed peas & broad beans as that is what the garden had on offer.  Spinach and courgette is usual.  Wash all the veg and shred or cut into bite size chunks as appropriate.
  • Leeks.  About 3 large leeks, but 1 large onion instead is usual.
  • Garlic.  3 cloves, peeled.
  • Olive oil.  Around 3 tbsp.
  • Water, Chicken or vegetable stock.  2 large cups to cook the rice.  Good stock cubes are fine.
  • Salt, pepper, nutmeg & dried chili flakes to taste.
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs.
  • 50g/2oz strong cheese such as mature cheddar.
  • 2 eggs.

Optional Extras:

  • Sun Dried Tomatoes.  If you have any, a few tablespoons chopped or try a few cherry tomatoes whole.
  • Nuts.  A few tablespoons of pine nuts or almonds dry roasted in a pan will add some crunch.
  • Bacon.  2 rashers of streaky bacon cut into bite size pieces.
  • Preserved lemons.  4 wedges, flesh removed and skin finely chopped.
  • Mushrooms.  About 100g chopped and fried in olive oil.
  • Olives.  A handful chopped.
  • Fresh herbs.  Whatever you fancy, finely chopped.

* The vegetables to be included in this rice based tian recipe can really be whatever you like.  Just try to aim for a final ratio of ½ cooked rice and ½ vegetables in the mixture.  I would always choose green vegetables as you really don’t need anything too starchy with the rice, and they should be quick to cook to ensure you’re making one of my cheap easy meals!

Vegetable Tian – Method

Cook your rice along with one whole clove of garlic, in stock, water or a mixture of the two.  For basmati use double the volume of stock to rice, bring to the boil, stir once, clamp on a lid, turn down to minimal heat and leave for 10 minutes.  Then remove from the heat and leave for another 10, without peeking or additional stirring.  The rice should be fluffy and gorgeous with just a quick fluff up with a fork before using.

Now get on with the vegetables.  Saute the leeks/onion &  2 crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil till soft, throw in the green vegetables, put a lid on and leave for 3-5 minutes to wilt.

If you’re using bacon, fry in a little olive oil till crispy.

Fry the breadcrumbs in a little olive oil (use the bacon pan for added flavour) till golden.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC

Time to put it all together.

In a large bowl mix rice, vegetables, eggs, cheese, bacon and any additional items you fancy.  Season with salt, pepper, plenty of nutmeg and a teaspoon or two of dried chili flakes.

Tip the whole lot into a casserole dish or pie tin (for authenticity use an earthenware dish) which has been lightly smeared with some olive oil to prevent the tian sticking.

Top with the fried breadcrumbs and pop into a moderate oven for about 30 minutes.  It will set into a rice and vegetable ‘cake’, golden around the outside but still most within.

Cut into wedges and serve with salad.

If you would like to be as uncouth as us, it makes a delightful doorstop sandwich filling in good crusty bread.

No pic as we ate it all.  It really is rather delicious!  Enjoy.

For a more self sufficient future

3 Responses to “Cheap Easy Meals – Vegetable Tian Recipe”

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  1. Matt says:

    I love your blog! I thought I would share with you a video I made for Oxfam that discusses the affect of climate change on the human population. It also encourages everyone to go and visit a website where they can sign a petition telling our world’s leaders that we want to see action on climate change at the Copenhagen summit later this year. I thought the video might be of interest to you.
    Here’s a link:

    With peace,

  2. Jonny Lyons says:

    I’m a courgette fan too, even the flowers are tasty (a tip from River Cottage) and I love that you can’t buy them. Just like fresh Garlic, it’s Grow or Go without!

    • Jonny, If people demand them, those flowers will become buyable – they sell them here in the markets, arranged in vases of water just like ordinary cut flowers. Have to admit, I prefer the fruit though, the courgette flowers must be picked very early in the morning before wilting and being over-run with ants!