30 August 2012

Tomates farcies « légères »

I'm not sure what exactly makes these stuffed tomatoes légères, but I know what makes them good. It's the fresh tomatoes from the garden, their liquid, and the basil leaves and fennel seeds in the stuffing. It's also the rice that cooks with them, which takes on a risotto-like texture as it absorbs tomato "water" and white wine.

Stuffed tomatoes — tomates farcies — are a standard French preparation at the end of summer, when the tomato crop comes in. The stuffing is usually ground pork in the form of chair à saucisses (sausage meat), which is seasoned ground pork. They even sell farce à tomates (tomato stuffing) at the supermarket — that's ground pork seasoned with black pepper, garlic, and parsley.

What I used was saucisses de Toulouse with the casings removed. Toulouse sausages are just coarsely ground pork, seasoned with salt and pepper, stuffed into a natural casing. Because I needed more stuffing, I added a package lardons nature — salt-cured pork bacon, not smoked — which I chopped coarsely with a big knife. (You could substitute ground chicken or turkey for the pork.)

Here's the stuffing recipe I was following (loosely), from Marmiton, for six tomatoes*:

• 6 grosses tomates bien rouges, bien mûres
• une petite livre de chair à saucisses
• 250 g de champignons de Paris
• gros oignon
• 1 bouquet de persil
• du riz basmati
• un vin blanc sec
• sel, poivre

Chop the onion, parsley, and mushrooms finely and mix them into the ground pork. It's easy and fast to chop the mushrooms in a food processor, pulsing them several times to get the right texture. Season the pork with salt, pepper if it's not already seasoned. Substitute basil for parsley if you want. Optionally, add a teaspoonful of fennel seeds to the mixture.

Cut the top off the six tomatoes and use a paring knife and a small spoon to loosen up and scoop out the pulp and seeds, which you can put in a strainer over a bowl so that the tomato liquid drips through. Salt the inside of the tomatoes lightly and fill the tomatoes with the meat mixture. Set them in a baking dish, and put the tomato tops back on.

Pour the reserved tomato liquid and enough white wine into the pan so that you have about  half an inch of liquid for the tomatoes to cook in. Puut the pan in a 350ºF/180ºC oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

At that point, spoon several tablespoons (½ to ¾ cup) of basmati or other rice into the cooking liquid in the baking dish. Mix it in evenly as best you can, and then put the dish back in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes more cooking. Adjust the oven temperature as necessary. When the rice is done, the tomatoes will be done too.

Not only do the supermarkets sell meat seasoned as tomato stuffing,
but they also sell stuffed tomatoes, ready-made.

* Here are the stuffing ingredients in English:
• 6 large ripe red tomatoes
• 1 lb. ground pork
• ½ lb. mushrooms
• 1 large onion
• 1 bunch parsley
• basmati rice
• dry white wine
• salt and pepper


  1. Ken, is that rice you've packed round the toms? And was that with the toms or cooked and after? It looks before, so could you say what and how you did that bit, please.

  2. Pauline, the raw rice goes into the tomato cooking liquid (with white wine) after the tomatoes have cooked for 30 to 40 minutes. Then the dish stays in the oven until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is completely cooked. I had to sprinkle the rice in in pinches, because the tomatoes were packed pretty close together, and then stir the rice into the liquid as best I could with a fork. Instead of rice, you could use wheat berries (Ebly) or millet or quinoa.

    I think the recipe is called "light" because mushrooms instead of bread crumbs are used in the meat mixture.

  3. This is one of our favorite dishes. We don't make it the same way, but the combination of rice, herbs, a pinch of cinnamon, and tomatoes is so good.

  4. Wonderful! Very similar to stuffed peppers, but with tomatoes-- and how good is a cooked fresh tomato? Fabulous! I can't wait to taste it! Oh... wait...

    Hope you enjoyed!


  5. Carolyn, tomatoes stuffed with rice or couscous (or millet or quinoa) are really good too. Along with cinnamon, I might put a few raisins in with the rice/couscous too. Miam miam...

  6. Delicious! I can still remember the taste even though it has been years since I had any.

  7. Hello Ken:
    We have just found you via Niall and Antoinette and what better way to be introduced than through tomatoes, a fruit that we absolutely love. Your stuffed tomatoes look absolutely delicious and, of course, what could be better than one's own home grown varieties. Perfect!

    We have signed ourselves as followers to keep in touch.

  8. The 3 large tomatoes you brought us are going to be 'farcie-d' for dinner tonight. Looking forward to them :-)

  9. Our local supermarket makes some very good prepared things. I especially like their stuffed chicken varieties.

  10. This is an excellent dish and will now enter my repertoire. I have shamelessly posted the result on my flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/oursonpolaire/7967680266)

  11. This is an excellent dish and I have shamelessly posted the results on my flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/oursonpolaire/7967680266


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