This month I am sharing a recipe from the kitchen of my good friend Fiona – Tomato Farcie. Fiona and I have been friends for over 25 years and she is God mother to my second boy. For a good few years we lived within a couple of miles of each other in London but now she has returned to her home county of Cheshire. I don’t see as much of her as I would like to, but when we do get together it is always good fun and we often find ourselves in the kitchen cooking together. On my last visit to her I asked her to make a recipe that I could share here.
Fiona shares a lot of her time between her home town of Sandbach and her holiday cottage in Cornac, France. She’s not the first of my friends to spend a lot of time in France. She really enjoys the countryside, the people, the food and the wine! When she stays in her pretty little blue and white cottage she likes to cook simple, tasty food. After all, who wants to spend too much time in the kitchen while they are on holiday. The recipe for one of her favourite dishes she likes to make there was given to her by her French neighbour Annick.
Making them back in Cheshire transports her back to France, ” Easy to make, they have a lovely summery flavour even when you make them in the winter!” she tells me. Stuffed with pork and flavoured with fresh thyme, which she has growing in her gardens both in France and the UK, it makes for a lovely meal.
The tomato farcie are served with rice that is cooked around the tomatoes in the oven. “It’s a simple one pot meal which helps reduce the washing up too, although I like to serve them with a green vegetable as well. Or in the summer with a crisp side salad” she explains.
It’s a versatile dish as you can serve it as a starter or light lunch for eight (Fiona likes to entertain) or four people as a main meal. Fiona says the sun tends to shine rather more in Cornac than Cheshire, so she brings some of that sunshine feeling into her UK home with some pretty sunflower accessories. If you haven’t guessed they are her favourite flower!
- 6 large beef steak tomatoes
- 2 slices white or wholemeal bread
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- small handful parsley leaves
- few sprigs fresh thyme,
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 500g minced pork
- 300g long grain rice
- 500ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
- Preheat the the oven to 180℃ /160℃ Fan /gas mark 4. Cut the tops of the tomatoes and use a small knife and spoon to scoop out the tomato seeds and core. Place in a large oven roasting dish.
- Place the bread, torn into pieces, onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor. Strip the leaves from the thyme and add to the processor along with some salt and pepper. Blitz to finely chop.
- Add the pork and blitz again to combine. Do this is short bursts, you just want the ingredients to combine. If you over work with the meat will loose its texture.
- Spoon into the hollowed out tomato shells and place the lids on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Tip the rice into the tin around the tomatoes and pour in the stock. return to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes until the rice is tender.
- No need to waste the tomato flesh. I add mine to a ratatouille mixture or make you could use to make a simple tomato sauce for pasta. Sauté an onion in a little oil until soft, add some chopped garlic, some fresh or dried herbs and the chopped up tomato flesh. Cook gently for 20 minutes. Serve as a chunky sauce or blitz in a food processor and strain for a smooth sauce.
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