Many of you know I spend a fair amount of time in France when I’m not in Toronto (want to experience our little corner of France for yourself? You can! Check out maison de la fontaine!) and one of the things I always try to do when I return home is re-create some of the meals I’ve enjoyed on my travels to make that “holiday” feeling extend into my real life.
One of my favourite simple, yet tasty classic French dishes I like to make in the summer is tomates farcies – to take advantage of the gorgeous tomatoes available (you can make these year-round but in the summer the tomato colours are so vibrant it’s hard to resist buying them at the market). Sounds fancy but it’s really just tomatoes hollowed out and filled with seasoned ground meat (usually sausage meat or pork but sometimes beef) and baked. It’s a pretty hands-off dish (and one that kids love, hence there will be a version in my upcoming kids’ French food cookbook!) and it’s very versatile – you can use whatever ground meat you like (or even make a vegetarian version as I’ve made before for Mushrooms Canada) and the technique extends to other vegetables as well, like peppers or even zucchini!
Earlier this fall, I created an appetizer-sized version of these for Mushrooms Canada and today I’m sharing the recipe because I think they are a pretty, perfect holiday hors d’oeuvre – using cherry tomatoes and lightening up the filling by replacing some of the meat with mushrooms.
These are the perfect party appetizer since they are best enjoyed just warm or even room temperature – you can make them ahead of time so you’re not fussing with food prep when your guests arrive!
- 32 cherry tomatoes with their stems still attached*
- 200g mushrooms (I used white), roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 sausages (approx. 200g) – I chose a classic “French country” sausage made with pork
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence seasoning
- freshly ground pepper (if your sausage meat is not seasoned you might want a pinch or two of salt too)
- olive oil for drizzling
- Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.
- Cut the tops off the cherry tomatoes (about ¾ of the way up the tomato from the bottom) being careful to keep the stems intact.
- Use a small, curved paring knife, carefully cut the flesh out of the inside of each tomato. Place the “lid” with the bottom half of the tomato upside down on a paper towel to drain. Repeat for all tomatoes.
- While the tomatoes are draining begin the filling.
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, blitz the mushrooms and garlic cloves until finely chopped.
- Slit the skin of each sausage and remove the meat from the casings. Discard the casings and place the meat in a small bowl with the mushrooms/ garlic, panko, Herbes de Provence and pepper. Use your hands to mix until all ingredients are well-combined.
- Make sure you are using a baking dish that will fit the tomatoes in snugly.
- Place the tomatoes in the baking dish (making sure to keep track of which lid belongs to which tomato) and use a tablespoon measure to scoop out the sausage/ mushroom mixture. Roll the scoops lightly between your hands and place in the tomatoes. Continue until all tomatoes are filled.
- Place the lids on each tomato, drizzle the tops with olive oil and sprinkle over a little more panko so each lid had a sprinkling.
- Bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes or until the filling has reached a temperature of 160˚F (use a meat thermometer to check).
- Remove from oven and allow to cool to just warm or room temperature then serve (when they are hot, they are a bit difficult to to handle, unless they are secured with a pick - see notes).
What about you – do you have a favourite recipe from your travels that you like to serve over the holidays?
Did you know? I’m a finalist in the AccorHotels’ #AccorHotels24 blogger contest? Click here and scroll to “Mardi M” to vote for my entry!