We may be approaching autumn but there are still plenty of tomatoes around to make these stuffed tomatoes (les tomates farcies). The tomatoes are filled with a rice (Camargue red rice if you can get it), onion, leeks and mushrooms. It's one of those simple dishes that's hugely comforting, and also great for dinner parties, and not only for its good looks. You can make a big batch all at once, plus it's vegan and gluten-free so should fit within most people's dietary requirements without any substitutions or amendments. These stuffed tomatoes are just inherently good. This is simple, wholesome cooking - one of the things we love best about French cuisine!
Southern French Stuffed Tomatoes
Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free
- 200g Camargue red rice or wholegrain basmati
- 750ml hot vegetable stock
- 12 vine tomatoes (or 6 large beef tomatoes)
- 4 tbsps olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced finely
- 1 finely chopped leek
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 150g mushrooms, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
- handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas6.
- Cook the rice in a medium saucepan with the hot vegetable stock. Stir occasionally and simmer until just cooked through, which takes about 25 minutes, make sure the rice isn’t over cooked as it is cooked again inside the tomatoes. Drain. Set the rice aside.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, cut a thick slice off the top of each tomato, leaving the green stalks attached if you can. Cut and scoop out the seeds, pulp, and juice from each tomato and blend these parts until smooth. (A stick blender works well for this)
- Rub 2 tablespoons of olive oil around the bottom of a baking dish, big enough to fit the tomatoes into snugly. Place the tomatoes in the prepared dish.
- In a frying pan fry the onion gently in the remainder of the olive oil, until soft and starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a minute before adding the leeks and mushrooms, along with a little salt and pepper. Turn the heat up and fry for two minutes and then add the blended tomato middles and oregano and simmer for a few minutes, then add the rice, and finish cooking until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the parsley, taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the rice mixture into the hollowed tomatoes, mounding slightly. Sprinkle leftover stuffing on the bottom of the pan. Put the tops of the tomatoes back on. Drizzle the entire dish with. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
- Make this dish up a day before and bake in the oven (for slightly longer to heat through) when you want to eat it.
- Use lightly roasted peppers instead of tomatoes. Cut them through the stalk, remove the seeds, drizzle with oil and roast for 20 minutes until soft. Stuff with hot filling and then grill them for a faster finish. (Use a tin of tomatoes in the stock instead of fresh tomato pulp.)
- You can keep the remainder of the stock you don’t use, and a handful of the rice and turn it into a soup by adding diced vegetables and herbs.
- Try varying the filling by adding other vegetables instead of mushrooms. Carrots, squash and peppers all work very well.