Joy is FREE and Vegetable and Cheese Tian Recipe

You may recall this quote on my blog from this past summer. It’s so good, I want to share it again.

Having fun and having joy are two different things. Fun is expensive; joy is free. -Joyce Meyer

I think about each day and how we can choose joy, or not. How each day should bring a sense of joy, excitement, a sense of expectation. But to some – it does not.

I like to think of it this way, “Love what you do, and do the best that you can.”

Each of our situations are so different, depending on the season of life we are journeying through. My last month has been quieter in my house with my boys in college, but I’m working hard and enjoying this glorious Autumn season.

One thing that brings me joy, more than ever, is to cook from the garden. My husband plants the garden, and really does most of the gardening, too, and I get to enjoy the fruits of his labor by canning and cooking the results.

Today, to showcase our never-ending harvest of summer’s squash and tomatoes (we have one bed that just finished producing), I’m sharing a recipe that my family loved. Loved!

Another thing that I like to do is to use up what’s in the fridge. In this case, I had a new package of Havarti cheese, of which I used the entire package. Delish!

Inspired by the recipe, Summer Vegetable Tian over at Williams Sonoma, and the JOY that our garden squash, potatoes, and tomatoes bring to our family, I can’t wait to make this earthy, vegetarian meal again.

You could make it as a side dish, but we enjoyed it as an entree for dinner. I sort of think of it as a pasta-free lasagna.

So what exactly is a “tian?”

“Originating in Provence, a tian is a French word that describes a shallow earthenware casserole as well as the food it contains. Traditionally it features a variety of vegetables, herbs and cheeses that are layered and then baked.” – Williams Sonoma


When does cooking for your family bring you the most joy?


Recipe: Vegetable and Cheese Tian {}

Summary: Veggie inspired meal from William Sonoma Summer Vegetable Tian


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 2 small crookneck squash, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 2 cups (your favorite cheese)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs (optional)


  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil or PAM spray.
  2. In a fry pan over medium heat, warm 5 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the onions to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Set aside.
  3. Layer the zucchini, crookneck squash, sweet potatoes and tomato slices on the onion mixture; add the 2 cups of cheese in between the layers.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and oregano in between layers. Drizzle with remaining oil.
  5. Cover and seal the pan with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove the baking dish from the oven and add the Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6


8 comments on “Joy is FREE and Vegetable and Cheese Tian Recipe”

  1. I like the message too and definitely will try the recipe. Thanks Sandy!

  2. I like the message as much as the recipe. There is joy in doing what you like and being good at it is even better. My garden is small, but I do get joy from using what I grow though I’m afraid that is about to come to an end for the season.

  3. This Tian looks wonderful and I will be trying it very soon. Sandy, you are so blessed with a harvest like this! Those tomatoes look beyond real …makes me want to reach into the screen and share one with you. I love tomato sammies, do you? I will finish shutting down most of my flower beds this week except for the mums and asters. I love my flowers and will be missing them till Spring returns.

  4. Love the quote and can’t wait to try the Tian!

  5. i love cooking for my blog, but i have to say that TRUE joy in cooking comes when i make something healthy and substantial for my family. seeing my husband truly dig in and enjoy something that i cooked is pretty awesome :)

    and that quote is absolutely perfect!

  6. Gorgeous recipe, Sandy. I love the freshness of it and how can you go wrong with an entire package of Havarti? Big hugs to you, friend!! xoxo

  7. Great quote & message, gorgeous photos, and I can’t wait to try that recipe! Wonderful post, Sandy. Best wishes to you and yours this semester. xoxo

  8. This recipe looks so delicious, and it does remind me of a pasta free lasagna! My favorite room in my house is the kitchen. Cooking for my family brings me joy!

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