A typical recipe from Provence, these Classic “Tomates Farcies” are the perfect addition to any Summer table. This unfussy recipe of ripe tomatoes, carved and filled with a stuffing of ground meat, herbs, bread and cheese is a staple dish in any French household – and a personal childhood favorite of mine. Naturally, this dish is best made at the peak of tomato season, when they are juicy, sweet and full of flavor.
An old timey dish from Provence, Tomates Farcies were born as a way to make a smart use of any leftover meat, bread and fresh herbs people had in the kitchen. For this reason, you can still today find countless variations of this dish: made with ground beef, pork, chicken or chopped up leftover stewed meat, mixed with stale bread or rice, any kind of fresh herbs and any type of hard cheese.
Today’s recipe includes ground chicken, parsley, stale bread and parmesan – but feel free to take some liberties if you wish, by using a different meat, herbs or cheeses (keeping the proportions and baking time the same).
Cooking notes :
- This recipe works equally as well using ground chicken, pork, beef, or a mix.
- Any medium to large tomato variety will work for this recipe. Choose them ripe, juicy yet still a little firm so they don’t turn mushy when baked. And make sure you drain the tomatoes well after carving them. Meaning, you need to salt the inside of the carved tomatoes and place them upside down on paper towels for at least one hour, so they lose most of their moisture.
- Any stale bread works for this recipe, from a crusty bakery-style loaf to a soft pain de mie. Make sure the bread is fully soaked in milk so it turns soft and “creamy”.
- Herbes de Provence are a key “ingredient” to give these Tomates Farcies their signature flavor. This is a typical mix of dried herbs from Provence and usually includes: savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano. Herbes de Provence mix can be found online, in specialty stores or bulk stores (ie. Bulkbarn in Canada); but if you can’t find it you can easily make your own mix at home. Use an equal amount of each dried herb and mix. Keep it in a sealed jar or in a tied up pouch, for months.
These Tomatoes Farcies are traditionally enjoyed warm as a main, along side rice, or cold the next day when it is just too warm to turn the oven on.
I hope you’ll love this Classic Tomates Farcies recipe as much as I do!
You may also like:
- Classic-French Tomato Mustard Tart
- Cod Provençal with Tomatoes, Capers & Olives
- Simple Chicken Marengo with Mushrooms
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic and Onion
6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (or 5 large)
Salt, to taste
2-3 slices stale bread, cut in small cubes
¾ cup (187.5 ml) milk
1 tbsp (15ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 lb (454g) ground chicken (or pork, or beef)
2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp of Herbs de Provence
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 large egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Step 1 – Prepare the tomatoes. Cut the hats (tops) from the tomatoes and carve the insides (flesh) out with a spoon. Keep the flesh with the juice in a separate bowl, and keep the hats too. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with a pinch of salt, and place the tomatoes upside down on a linen or paper towel to absorb the juice. Set aside for at least one hour.
Step 2 – In a bowl, pour the milk over the bread cubes; set aside to soak.
Step 3 – Chop up the tomato flesh coarsely. Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic, onion, and tomato flesh. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is moisture-free and reduced to a paste-like consistency.
Pre-heat your oven to 350F (180C) with a rack in the middle.
Step 4 – In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, chopped basil, Herbs de Provence, grated parmesan, milk-soaked bread, onion and tomato flesh mixture and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix until just combined.
Step 5– Spoon the stuffing into the hollowed tomatoes, making sure they are well packed. Place the hats back on top and place the tomatoes standing upright into a baking dish. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Allow the dish to rest 30 extra minutes in the oven, with the oven turned off, before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a comment below, rate the recipe and/or share a photo on Instagram: tag @pardonyourfrench and hashtag it #pardonyourfrench. Bon Appetit!