This is one of our family’s favourite recipes (and one of the most popular recipes in French Kids Eat Everything!).
It’s a French kids’ classic, and actually sums up a lot about the French approach to kids’ food: elegant yet edible, beautifully presented, easy and quick to make. Tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes) are both filling and fun. The tomatoes are hollowed out and stuffed (in this case, with a savory ground beef mixture), and then baked to perfection. The farce peeks out of the tomatoes in acoquettish sort of way, and children love lifting up the tomato “hats” to see what lies underneath. Served with something that can absorb the delicious juices (rice and couscous are our favorites), this is a complete and easy tasty meal.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes (but make sure to preheat that oven!)
Servings: 4 small adult (or older child) servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1/2 pound ground beef
4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional: 1 minced red or yellow pepper, 2 teaspoons dried parsley and/or oregano, salt, pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F (200 degrees C).
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, quickly add the ground beef (to “seize” the meat), stir vigorously for 1 minute, and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer the meat until thoroughly cooked, about 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes: slice off the tops and set them aside, then hollow out the insides of the tomatoes with a small spoon, removing the flesh and pulp to a bowl. (The result will look like little bowls.) Turn the tomatoes upside down on a plate to allow the juices to drain. Chop the tomato insides and add them to the simmering beef mixture. (Optional: add diced red or yellow pepper along with the tomatoes.)
4. Combine the breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices in a mixing bowl. (I use a little parsley and oregano, salt and pepper, but my sister-in- law uses paprika. Get creative!)
5. Add the breadcrumb mixture to the meat in the skillet and stir thoroughly. Spoon the resulting mixture (the “farce”) into the tomato “bowls.” Sprinkle with Parmesan. Put the tops back on the tomatoes like little “hats.”
6. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are deliciously melt-in-your-month (fondant). Cool for 5 minutes before serving.