Tian of Eggplant, Onions and Tomatoes

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1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 medium-large onions (about 2 pounds)
6 large, ripe tomatoes (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs, such as thyme, crushed rosemary, winter savory; or pre-mixed herbes de Provence, or about 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as above
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Slice the eggplant (no need to peel), onions and tomatoes as thinly as possible.

In a 12 by 8-inch rectangular or oval baking dish, make a layer of onions, then eggplant, then tomatoes.

Sprinkle with about 3/4 teaspoon of the dried herbs and the same amount of fresh basil. Sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper

Repeat the layers, sprinkling each with herbs, salt and pepper. End with a layer of onions.

Pour the olive oil over the vegetables.

Place in a preheated 300-degree oven for about 3 hours. While the vegetables bake, press them down with a wide spatula/hamburger turner about every 30 minutes and remove accumulating liquid with a bulb baster or large kitchen spoon. At first the liquid will be just from the vegetables. Eventually, you will be drawing off oil as well. (Save the juices for another use: for a soup or stew base, cooked down slightly as a sauce for pasta, or simply for dunking bread.)

When done, the vegetables will have reduced in volume by at least a third and they should be soft and compact. The top layer of onions should be well caramelized. Timing is approximate: it make take as much as an hour longer.

Let cool at least slightly before cutting into squares and serving. Or serve at room temperature.

Serves as many as 10 to 12

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