Tomates farcies

Stuffed tomatoes

A perennial French favorite, tomates farcies may be stuffed with either meat or veggies. For best results, choose large, ripe tomatoes, best at the height of summer. Cooking time will be about an hour — for preparing the stuffing, filling the tomatoes and roasting them.

The meat stuffing can be made with ground pork, beef, lamb, veal or a combination. The recipe given here uses beef and pork in a 1:1 ratio. For the pork, you can use a high-quality Italian sausage or the French equivalent, saucisse de Toulouse — simply remove the meat from its casing. Also popular are pork and veal, or beef and lamb, both also in a 1:1 ratio.

The veggie stuffing is similar to ratatouille, with some bulghur added for heft.

Stuffed tomatoes are generally served as a main course, accompanied by rice, salad or another veggie. The quantities below will serve 2-3 people.

For both versions:
2 large or 3 medium-large tomatoes

For the meat stuffing:
1/4 pound (110 g) ground beef
1/4 pound (110 g) uncooked pork sausage meat (see above)

1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. cooked white rice
1 tsp. herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
or basil

For the vegetable stuffing:
1 small eggplant
1 zucchini (courgette)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
1 crushed cayenne pepper (optional)
4 tbsp. uncooked bulghur
4 tbsp. water

1 tbsp. snipped fresh basil or parsley

Preparing the tomatoes

Rinse the tomatoes.

Using a sharp knife, cut a circle around the top of each tomato to create a cap, going in at an angle (as you would if you were carving a pumpkin). Gently remove the cap. Set aside.

Use a spoon to detach the pulp from the wall of each tomato, being very careful not to damage the wall. Transfer the pulp, seeds and juice to a small bowl. Set aside.

(The pulp will not be needed for the meat version, but you can use it to make a tomato sauce for another occasion. Heat some olive oil, add minced garlic, add the pulp, salt, pepper and the herbs of your choice, and cook until the sauce is reduced by about 1/2.)

Preparing the stuffing

1) The meat stuffing

Place the meat in a mixing bowl. Add the minced onion or shallot and minced garlic. Add the rice, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.

Mix — this is most easily done with your hands, even if it’s a bit messy. Add the snipped basil or parsley and and mix again.

2) The veggie stuffing

Rinse and cube the eggplant, paring away the top. Rinse and pare the zucchini and slice into rounds. Peel the onion, cut in half and slice finely. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil to sizzling in a large skillet. Add the eggplant. Sauté over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the cubes start to brown, about 5 minutes.

Push the eggplant to one side of the skillet. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the other side. When it’s hot, add the zucchini. Sauté for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Mix the zucchini and eggplant together. Add the onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes more.

Turn down the heat to medium. Add the tomato pulp and juices. Stir. Add the herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. If using cumin and/or cayenne, add now. Cook until the tomato pulp has softened, about 5 minutes more.

Add the bulghur and water. Continue cooking just until the water has been absorbed. Remove the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the fresh herbs.

Finishing the recipe

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).

Fill the tomatoes with the stuffing of your choice. Add a bit more so that the stuffing forms a small mound above the rim of each tomato. Place the caps on top.

Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Drizzle on a little olive oil and spread it around. Set the tomatoes in the pan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and starting to brown.

Serve piping hot, accompanied by a smooth red, for example Côtes du Rhone, or a crisp rosé. Serves 2-3.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email