tomates farcies: beef & vegetarian stuffed tomatoes {and a bonus quinoa salad}!

if you follow this blog you know by now how much i love tomatoes. i have for as long as i can remember. as a kid, if we were having something i didn’t like for dinner, i would just chop up a tomato and eat it with white rice (didn’t know about the no-no carbs back then) or flat bread (same thing) or bite in to a whole salted tomato or two! there are always ripe tomatoes sitting in a bowl on my kitchen counter- i never refrigerate them-i was told by a local chef a few years ago that it changes their chemistry (and flavor). when my son visited his friend’s grandparents in the french country side a few years ago, he came home raving about the incredible stuffed tomatoes he’d been served. naturally, i made my own version for him with ground beef and rice (persian style)…he liked them, but they were nothing like the tomates farcies he’d tasted in france. when i came across these amazing organic tomatoes at the market (they are in season and i am so happy) yesterday, i decided to make french style “tomates farcies“. i also made an experimental vegetarian version with quinoa and fennel which was arguably better than the meat variety. some of us had three or four (!!) of these….happy happy tummies!
ingredients for beef stuffed tomates farcies for 6-8:   {scroll down for the salad recipe}

  • 1 pound grass fed organic lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, finely cubed
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • 8 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbs good quality (preferably home made) bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
1. cut the tops off the tomatoes, then carefully empty the insides with the help of a small paring knife and a small spoon (be careful not to pierce them). save the softer pulp and juices from the insides in a bowl. allow the empty tomatoes to drain, and keep their lids near them.
2. in a heavy pot heat 1 tbsp olive oil and sautee the minced garlic and onions until softened and golden, then add the beef, sea salt & pepper to taste to the pot and brown on high heat. break up the beef pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. chop up about 1/2 of the tomato pulp (from emptying the tomatoes) and add it along with some of the juices to the browned  beef-simmer on med/low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed. turn off the heat, let the mixture cool slightly, then add all of the finely chopped herbs and mix well.
3. add about 3 tbs of good quality bread crumbs to the beef mixture (off the heat) and combine well. taste for salt, and adjust.
4. with a small spoon carefully fill the tomatoes with the beef mixture all the way to the top and cover loosely with lids. place tomatoes tightly in a baking dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes-up to an hour. scroll down for vegetarian recipe.

for vegetarian stuffed tomatoes (for 6 and a bonus salad):
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked in lightly salted water
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely minced (small cubes)
  • 2-3 green onions finely chopped, or a small bunch of chopped chives
  • 1 small bunch chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch chopped fresh dill
  • 6 ripe roma tomatoes (or tomatoes of choice), emptied, soft insides & juices set aside
  • sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
additional ingredient for salad:
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 cup baby heirloom (or cherry) tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters
  • 1/4 cup or so chopped dill
  • fennel greens from the bulb
1. combine the cooked quinoa with all of the chopped herbs, green onions, very finely chopped fennel, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. finely chop up the remaining tomato pulp that was set aside (from emptying the tomatoes earlier) and add to the mixture without too much of the juice.
2. carefully fill the tomatoes with the mixture, put the lids on loosely, and drizzle lightly with olive oil and sea salt. bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. ** you can also add 2 tbs of good quality parmesan cheese to the mixture for additional flavor**fresh quinoa salad with fennel:  after filling the tomatoes, you should have some mixture left over. add to this the lime juice, baby tomatoes, fennel greens, more chopped dill, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. serve as a quinoa salad!



dinner is served:
small sweet melons, tomates farcies, salt & pepper, baguette, green salad with rocket & avocado,
quinoa salad, rose wine
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