When I was a student, and for several years after, every year we would go to the south of France for our summer holidays. We were on a tight budget but we used to eat well because the markets were full of lovely fruit and vegetables, and wine and bread were cheap! Occasionally we would treat ourselves to a little extravagance from the charcuterie – when I say extravagance, I mean an extra couple of francs! We would buy a better quality saucisson, or some nice paté or some stuffed tomatoes…. how delicious they were.
I know everything from the past tastes better, but I have never been able to cook tomates farcies which taste like those ones from le Midi. I can’t get the cooking right, and I can’t get the stuffing right. I’ve tried all sorts of different recipes, some of which were nice, but just not as nice and sometimes just not very nice:
As we have been experiencing Provençal weather I thought I would make them again… stuffed with couscous and herbs they were ok… quite good in fact and tasty…. but not the same!
Here is a recipe from the BBC Food Page:
For the tomato sauce
- 80-100ml/3-3½fl oz olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
- 2 tbsp tomato purée (if the tomatoes are not very ripe)
- 1kg/2lb 3oz ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 4 pinches salt
- 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pinches sugar (optional)
- 3 fresh basil leaves
For the stuffed tomatoes
- 4 x 200g/7oz ripe tomatoes (preferably marmande or beef, organic if possible)
- 200g/7oz minced pork
- 60g/2oz fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 free-range egg yolk
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
- 60g/2oz Comté cheese, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
- Stir in the tomato purée, if using, and cook for one minute before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season to taste with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for a further 20 minutes. Taste again and correct the seasoning if needed, adding the sugar if necessary. Stir in the basil.
- Pass the sauce through a mouli or fine sieve into a pan and set aside until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- For the stuffed tomatoes, trim the bases of the tomatoes so they sit flat on the work surface. Slice off the top third of the tomatoes and reserve (this will serve as the ‘lid’ for the stuffed tomatoes).
- With a spoon, scoop out the pulp and juices of the tomatoes into a bowl. Add the juices and pulp to the pan with the tomato sauce.
- Mix all of the remaining stuffed tomato ingredients, except the Comté cheese, together in a bowl until well combined. Stir in half of the cheese.
- Season the insides of the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Divide the pork stuffing into four equal portions and roll each into a ball big enough to fit inside the tomatoes. Place the stuffing into the tomatoes, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Top each stuffed tomato with the reserved tomato ‘lids’.
- Brush a baking dish with a little olive oil then place the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with some more olive oil and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the stuffing is cooked through.
- To serve, reheat the tomato sauce and pour into the baking dish with the stuffed tomatoes. Alternatively, pour the sauce into individual serving dishes and top each with a stuffed tomato.