This recipe takes about an hour to table. Serves 4
3 medium-large sweet potatoes (preferably dark orange), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 (14-ounce) can small white beans, rinsed in a strainer
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks and sections separated
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine all the vegetables, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil in a large bowl and toss well. (The vegetables can be prepared to this point up to 4 hours in advance.) Pack the mixture into a 2 1/2 or 3-quart shallow baking dish and flatten the top surface. Bake 45 minutes.
To make the fresh bread crumbs, tear up the bread and make crumbs out of it in a food processor or blender. Place the crumbs into a bowl and drizzle with the oil. Rub the oil into the crumbs with your fingertips to moisten them evenly.
Remove the tian from the oven. Spread the crumbs all over the top. Return the tian to the oven and bake 15 minutes more, or until the topping is a rich golden color. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.