Tiella di patate, cipolle e pomodori (Potato, Onion and Tomato Casserole)

Tiella di patate cipolle e pomodori (Potato Onion and Tomato Casserole)

I really like baked casserole dishes. You can assemble them at your leisure, then pop them in the oven and serve them when you’re ready to eat. It’s cooking at its most relaxing.

The people of Puglia, the region at the heel of the Italian boot, are particularly casserole dishes they call tielle after the cooking vessel in which they are cooked. The most famous of these, often simply called tiella pugliese, is a rich mixture of rice, potatoes, mussels, tomatoes and more. It’s filling enough to serve as a one dish meal. This simpler but no less delicious potato, onions and tomato casserole makes a great side dish for grilled meats or fish. The dish is at its best when you can harvest tomatoes and fresh oregano from your own garden, but you can enjoy it any time of year. Cheap, filling and really tasty, the dish practically defines la cucina povera.

Ingredients

Serves 4-5 as a side dish

  • 250g (1/2 lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) onion, sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) tomatoes, sliced, seeds discarded
  • A few sprigs fresh oregano or dried oregano
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs, q.b.
  • Olive oil

Directions

Grease a baking dish, preferably made from terra-cotta, with a bit of olive oil.

Place a layer of sliced onion in the bottom of the dish and drizzle with olive oil. Place a layer of potato on top of the onions, then a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle that with garlic, oregano leaves, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat until you use up all the ingredients—but for the top layer, mix potatoes and tomatoes in a decorative pattern.

Add enough water to come up about halfway up the height of the ingredients.  Sprinkle the top layer with breadcrumbs  and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) on convection heat for about 45-60 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, most of the liquid evaporated and the top nicely browned. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Tiella di patate cipolle e pomodori (vertical)

Notes

There are few ways to go wrong with this no fuss dish. But, like so many simple dishes, the better the quality of your ingredients, the more toothsome the result. Besides the tomatoes, look for yellow fleshed potatoes like Yukon Golds. Olive oil from Puglia would, of course be ideal. But if  you can’t find it easily, look for olive oil of the dark green, fruity variety with intense flavor.

The top should be nicely browned. And don’t worry if a few edges here and there are slightly charred—some people say that’s the best part! If the top is not browning as it should, torque up the heat to 200C/400F for a few minutes at the end. And don’t neglect the rest period before serving. Besides cooling the dish off a bit and avoiding burning your tongue, the rest also allows the oil and any remaining juices to soak into the potatoes, rendering them even more unctuous and delicious.

If you’re not feeling particularly fancy, you can also make a more down home version of this dish by mixing all the ingredients (other than the breadcrumbs) in a mixing bowl and pouring them into the baking dish, flattening the ingredients out to form a more or less even top. Drizzle with olive oil and proceed as directed. It’ll be every bit as good, just a little less pretty.

Once you have the basic recipe down, you can mix things up according to your tastes to make all sorts of vegetable casseroles. I’ve seen recipes that add peppers to the mix, some include zucchini and even fried eggplant. Not all include garlic or oregano, while others call for some grated pecorino cheese.

Tiella di patate, cipolle e pomodori (Potato, Onion and Tomato Casserole)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish or antipasto, 2 as a vegetarian main dish

Tiella di patate, cipolle e pomodori (Potato, Onion and Tomato Casserole)

Ingredients

  • 250g (1/2 lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) onion, sliced
  • 250g (1/2 lb) tomatoes, sliced, seeds discarded
  • A few sprigs fresh oregano or dried oregano
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs, q.b.
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Grease a baking dish, preferably made from terra-cotta, with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Place a layer of sliced onion in the bottom of the dish and drizzle with olive oil. Place a layer of potato on top of the onions, then a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle that with garlic, oregano leaves, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat until you use up all the ingredients—but for the top layer, mix potatoes and tomatoes in a decorative pattern.
  3. Add enough water to come up about halfway up the height of the ingredients. Sprinkle the top layer with breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) on convection heat for about 45-60 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, the water evaporated and the top nicely browned. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
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11 Responses to “Tiella di patate, cipolle e pomodori (Potato, Onion and Tomato Casserole)”

  1. 21 July 2014 at 10:34 #

    I bought an almost identical dish in Spain last summer, and know what I will be using it for very soon…

  2. 29 June 2014 at 20:25 #

    I will try to make this the next time we cook in our wood-fired oven: it looks perfect for that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • 30 June 2014 at 11:19 #

      Please do! I can well imagine a wood-fired oven would give this dish that extra something.

      By the way, really enjoying your interview with Paolo!

  3. 28 June 2014 at 19:09 #

    mi hai dato un’ottima idea, è tanto tempo che non la faccio e rivederla fotografata qui da te mi ha messo voglia, buona domenica Frank !

  4. 24 June 2014 at 14:15 #

    Oh Frank- How timely of you. I’ve been in Puglia this week eating exactly this dish. It’s everywhere and yours looks as good, if not better than what i’ve seen here.

    • 25 June 2014 at 15:50 #

      Wow, Linda—how you flatter me…

  5. 24 June 2014 at 00:38 #

    That looks fabulous, Frank! I’ve got tomato plants (no tomatoes yet), oregano, and potatoes in the garden. I’m pinning this to find it when we have some homegrown tomatoes! :)

    • 25 June 2014 at 15:50 #

      Sounds like a plan, Kath! Do let us know how you like it.

    • 13 July 2014 at 14:15 #

      This is very like a recipe from the Cordon Bleu book which I have been making for many years. The only difference is that the onions are fried first and the potatoes cooked, which makes it a bit of a faff, so I always try to prepare it the day before. It’s great with roast pork and always gets a really good reception. I have often wondered about the name it has in the book, “Tomatoes Provençals”, because to me, these are the baked tomatoes, which are stuffed with garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs, that one sees all over France. I’ll definitely give your recipe a go, it looks much easier than mine.

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    […] I really like baked casserole dishes. You can assemble them at your leisure, then pop them in the oven and serve them when you’re ready to eat. It’s cooking at its most relaxing.  […]

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