Summer Squash and Potato Spiral Tian

by April on May 19, 2015

You know those recipes you see on Pinterest and think, “Ugh who are these jerks making these things?”

After seeing such a recipe of a spiralized tian I finally decided to give it a go to get rid of a bunch of yellow squash before my next Pinckney’s Produce CSA box for the box arrived. The tian recipe I modeled my construction on consisted of eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash, but I wanted to model mine on a potato and squash gratin recipe that I use quite frequently when I get to that point of the CSA season where I never want to see a squash again (it rarely lasts though).

Out came the mandolin and with a small prayer to the god of sharp surfaces, I started slicing my squashes and large baking potato into 1/8″ thick slices while thinking about how in the world I was gonna assemble this thing. I knew it would be a huge pain so I called in reinforcements. “NOODLE, C’MERE I need your hands!”

He tried to convince me that I needed toothpicks but I said NO. …Also I had none as they got used up for a SC Girls Pint Out event and I haven’t replenished my stock. After realizing that four hands was going to be too many, he suggested I spiral ON the pie plate instead of on the cutting mat with a hope to lift and transfer over. He was correct this time. For those who want to make this, do not do it after a frustrating day at work, or when you’ve just woke up with the intent to have a storm cloud over your head kind of day. Save it for a day with a bit of patience. Or… buy small individual serving sized baking dishes for me these bad boys because honestly, that’s what I’m going to do in the future.


A tian is named such for the dish that it is cooked in, a shallower dish than a casserole and historically a bit cone shaped from the bottom up. A tian also used to have liquid added but more modern ones have no liquid except what comes from the vegetables as they cook. I hesitate to call the dish I used a real tian, but it does the job. It’s just a SMARTA pie plate from IKEA, and it makes nice presentation and easy transporting for dishes.


Summer Squash and Potato Tian

(this is for a 11″ diameter pie plate)

  • 1 large baking potato
  • 4-5 summer squash (I used yellow crooknecks but zucchini would be fine and probably easier!)
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspooon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 ounces cheese, grated (I used a white Kerrygold cheddar, but Parmesan, Asiago, or even goat would be great)


  1. Use a mandolin to slice the potato and squash longways into 1/8″ thick slices. A knife would do the job but probably not without unevenness and extreme annoyance on your part. Be careful with the mandolin, it HURTS. The best way to slice is to cut the vegetable down the middle longways once, then hold the curved side (or use a safety guide, usually included in the mandolin) to run the flat side down against the blade. Discard the smaller pieces that are left.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  3. Heat up one tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in a small saute pan. Toss in the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  4. Spread the cooked onions and garlic out in the bottom of the pie plate (or smaller vessels if using) and prepare for the fun part.
  5. Stack up the potato and squash slices and cut longways so you’re making long strips of the vegetable. See the photo for a better idea of what’s going on, but after you cut a stack, put them aside so that the flat sides all stay the same direction, you’ll understand why in a second. IMG_6733
  6. After the vegetables are cut longways, start with a piece of squash and roll it up into a tight circle. Keep adding vegetable strips, flat side DOWN, alternating squash and potato, overlapping the ends with each new piece if possible. It will become too unwieldly for your palm after a bit.
  7. At the point it becomes too large, place it in the center of the pie plate, directly on the onion/garlic mixture. Keep wrapping vegetable strips using your hands to keep it tight as long as you can.
  8. After you cannot keep it tight with just your hands, stagger vegetable strips in a circular fashion around the coil and just keep packing it around the circle until you run out of vegetables.
  9. Once you’re satisfied with the coil, mix the herbs and seasonings with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and drizzle evenly over the vegetable coil. If you have a silicone oil brush, feel free to use it lightly to spread the oil around.
  10. Next, grate the cheese over the dish and stick that sucker in the oven for 30-35 minutes, uncovered.
  11. Serve immediately, using tongs to pick up part of the circle and destroying your beautiful creation.


How do you slice it, you ask? Don’t. Use tongs!


Ingredient Reduction Challenge Results

by April on April 25, 2015

Remember the ingredient reduction challenge I issued for myself a little less than two weeks ago? I’ve finally finished using up the original four items, which were Stubb’s barbecue sauce, bread crumbs, pumpkin soup and one ingredient I totally forgot to mention in the first post- the contents of the bag, canahua.

Canahua (pronounced and also alternatively spelled as kaniwa) is a little grain very similar to quinoa but a little smaller and less fluffy. It also packs a stronger punch of amino acids and protein than quinoa in a smaller package. I thought I’d try using it as a breakfast grain and topping it with softened apple chunks and cinnamon, similar to this recipe but subbing in the different grain.

It turned out… okay. It was a bit too grainy for my liking, although the cinnamon, apple and honey combination was excellent. I would definitely try this again with the quinoa for a fluffier result. I do still have about 3/4 of a cup of canahua left but think that I may unfortunately let it go as a failed purchase. Even in a savory application like serving it as a bed for grilled vegetables, the grainy texture would still prevail and distract from the main attraction of the meal, those lightly charred, sumptuously marinated vegetables.

For anyone still interested in canahua despite my reservations on it, I found it at 14 Carrot Whole Foods in Lexington, and I believe last time I was out there a few weeks ago, they still had it in stock in their bulk section.

As for the pumpkin soup, it didn’t get much of a fancy treatment, just heated up and served with sriracha, rosemary, and a bit of salt and pepper to bring out the savoriness. The barbecue sauce was turned into the originally planned Easy BBQ Tofu from Oh She Glows and was excellent. So all of the ingredients were used!

Next up will be four more items selected from the pantry that just need to be gone. Stay tuned for the next contestants along with a look at how I plan meals around these eclectic group of pantry hangers-on.



Cooking with Benford Brewing’s Southern Tater Ale

April 14, 2015

Let’s discuss a very unlikely place to want to discuss: Lancaster, South Carolina. It’s a place that kind of marks halfway from Columbia to Charlotte for me when I’m on I-77. And that’s about as far as my thinking on Lancaster went until I discovered Benford Brewing by way of a road trip up there […]

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Ingredient Reduction Challenge

April 13, 2015

When the cost of living goes up but the income stays the same, it’s harder to save a dollar than it ever was before. So in these turbulent times, I decided to embark on a little self-challenge to use up some random ingredients from the pantry to make up meals rather than starting from scratch […]

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Cayce Festival of the Arts

April 12, 2015

The inaugural Cayce Festival of the Arts went down this weekend at the Guignard Brickworks. What is that? It’s the site where many of the bricks used in South Carolina buildings from the early 1800s through the early part of the 20th century. I explored it a few years ago after wondering what they were […]

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Adult Milkshakes? YES. Kaminsky’s Opens in Columbia

April 3, 2015

A few months ago I was eavesdropping at the local watering hole and heard people talking about a new restaurant opening in the former Nonnah’s space on Gervais Street, so naturally, I made my way into the conversation and reported it. Now, several months since, Kaminsky’s (an export from Charleston, and part of the same […]

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From Easter Eggs to Deviled Eggs to Various Salads…

March 30, 2015

I’m really losing some Southern points here today because I’m going to admit some things. One, I had no idea when Easter was until a cousin told me in a text message conversation. Two, I suck at making deviled eggs. But I feel like I can redeem myself because I did make really pretty Easter […]

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Potato Chip Dusted Frosted Brownies

March 24, 2015

There something about traveling that just hits the spot when life begins to feel like a repetitive cycle of work, sleep, repeat. Traveling forces a breaking of the routine and keeps the mind engaged in not getting lost going somewhere less or totally unfamiliar, about finding where your next meal will come from, and making […]

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My Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup

March 4, 2015

Sometimes what food writers don’t tell you is that their favorite recipes are the hardest ones to post. It’s not because it’s to protect a sekrit family recipe, or to save it for a future restaurant or cookbook publishing. It isn’t even because the recipe is so near and dear that the thought of having […]

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King Cake Alternatives

February 16, 2015

The past two years I’ve brought king cakes to my offices, which in turn made people like me more and question my heritage. While I’m always welcoming of people liking me more, I just have to put it out there that I’m not from Louisiana, nor is anyone in my family. The king cake tradition […]

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