I first made tomates farcies years ago when we were dreaming about a holiday to France. I thought I’d introduce the kids to French culture in the best way I knew how – through their lucky tummies. It was everlasting le coup de foudre to say the least. Not surprising, as tomates farcies has been a French nursery staple for generations. You simply cannot go wrong with a French staple.
The thing is, the rules of French food and the culture that surrounds it haven’t changed much in eleventy hundred years because why change when things are perfect? Nobody overeats, nobody eats the wrong foods, kids eat what’s put in front of them and nobody would ever dream of serving ugly food. So French.
It seems that it is impossible to talk about the French and their food without sounding dictatorial and oh-so-smug. The French just do not dick around about food and if you don’t agree, well, they are very sorry for you.
Tomates farcies or ‘stuffed tomatoes’ if you are out of italics, is simple to prepare and simply delicious. We actually have friends who invite themselves over for dinner when they hear I’m making this dish.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 250 gm minced beef
- 4 large tomatoes
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat fan-force oven to 190°C.
2. Heat the olive oil over low heat in a heavy-based pot. Add the onions and saute until golden brown then increase the heat to med-high and add the mince. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer the meat until cooked through.
3. While the meat is simmering you can prepare the tomatoes. Slice off the tops (about 1 cm down) and scoop out all the pulp inside, putting your pulp into a bowl to the side. Turn the tomato shells upside down on a plate so all the juices can drain.
4. Take your tomato pulp and chop it thoroughly then add it to the now-cooked mince on the stove to simmer away. Add the liquid drained from the upturned tomatoes too.
5. Mix together the breadcrumbs, sage, oregano and Parmesan (and any salt or pepper) and add it to the mince. Stir together thoroughly.
6. Spoon the mince into the tomato bowls and put the tops back on the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes into a baking dish and bake for around 20 minutes, or until they start to sag a little.
7. Cool for 5 minutes before serving over cous cous or rice (there are lots of lovely drippings to soak up!). Serve with a big green salad for a wonderful family meal that’s a little bit special.