Years ago I spent a wonderful week in the countryside outside of Paris at the home of my friend’s adopted French family. It was a lovely setting surrounded by wheat fields and sunflower fields. There was lavender growing in abundance around the house. And to this day, that trip remains one of my happiest memories.
Mon déjeuner dans la campagne française
My lunch in the French countryside
We arrived at our destination around midday and it was then that I was introduced to the first of many leisurely, convivial meals. Our lunch consisted of tomates farcies, salad, and bread. And when I thought the meal was over, the most glorious cheese platter was brought out. We sat at the table for hours talking and laughing. I have never felt so instantly connected to a family or comfortable in a space as I was that lovely summer afternoon. Throughout our stay we had many such meals, but that first meal was one that stayed with me through the years.
Recreating from memory
I never got the original recipe from my host and to be honest, I don’t remember the exact flavors. What was more important to me was to create something that would continue to remind me of that summer in France.
Elements of tomates farcis
Tomates farcis is typically a dish made in homes, not fancy restaurants. Each family has its own recipe but here are the common elements:
- Ripe tomatoes – they should still be firm and be able to hold their shape but have a little give in the flesh
- Ground meat – this recipe uses a combination of beef and pork but you could also use ground chicken, turkey, or lamb. If you wanted to make this vegetarian, you could substitute cooked quinoa for the meat.
- Fresh herbs – this recipe uses parsley and thyme but you may substitute with other soft herbs like basil
Tomates farcis are best served with a simple green salad and crusty bread.Print
This dish celebrates summer-ripe tomatoes and is perfect to serve with a green salad, crusty bread, and a glass of wine.
4 large, ripe tomatoes
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup Parmesan, shredded
For the stuffing
½ pound beef
½ pound pork
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 medium onion, finely diced*
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, optional
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray the bottom of a baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cut the tops off each tomato and reserve.
Using a paring knife or spoon, remove the seeds and scoop out the inside pulp of each tomato, being careful to keep the tomato shells intact. Do not discard the pulp. Lightly sprinkle the interiors of the tomatoes with sea salt and turn them upside down on a rack to drain excess water.
Purée the reserved tomato pulp. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the puréed tomato into the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside
Combine the stuffing ingredients. Do not overwork the mixture.
Stuff each tomato with enough filling to make a slight mound above the rim of the tomato shell. Don’t overstuff or pack in the filling or it may not cook through. Please the tomatoes into the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place a cut tomato top on each tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake uncovered for 40 minutes then allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.
*If you prefer your onions very soft, you may sauté them for 5 minutes in a little olive oil before adding to the stuffing mixture.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Main dishes
- Cuisine: French
- Calories: 513.3
- Sugar: 6.96 g.
- Sodium: 713.45 mg.
- Fat: 37.2 g.
- Saturated Fat: 12.38 g.
- Carbohydrates: 21.09 g.
- Fiber: 3.71 g.
- Protein: 28.38 g.
- Cholesterol: 129.84 mg
Keywords: tomato, ground beef, ground pork