Hats Off

A simple dish makes the most of tomato season.

Hats Off

A simple dish makes the most of tomato season.

Apéro is a simple brick-lined wine bar on Karangahape Road in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, where French-born Leslie Hottiaux cooks deceptively simple French food and where her partner Mo Koski matches that with bonhomie and excellent wine choices. We’re looking forward to eating there again after three long months, though this recipe for tomates farcies – stuffed tomatoes – is pretty tempting too. “This is one of my favourites now that the tomatoes season is ON!” says Hottiaux.

Tomates Farcies

Serves 6

6 big good-quality tomatoes

6 pinches salt

4 pinches Espelette pepper (or chilli flakes)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

800g pork mince (or a favourite pork sausage, skins removed)

100g basmati rice

Handful soft fresh herbs (e.g. thyme, oregano, parsley), chopped

What to do

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 

2. Slice a 1.5cm top from each tomato – it will become the hat. Scoop out the insides with a spoon, removing and discarding the seeds but reserving the flesh. Sprinkle the inside of each tomato with a pinch of salt and place them upside down on a plate to drain away excess water.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for around 8 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in pork mince and cook a further 5 minutes until nicely browned. Taste and add additional salt if needed. 

4. Roughly chop the reserved tomato flesh and add to the pan with the rice. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until the rice is tender and just a little juicy, adding water or a tin of chopped tomatoes if additional liquid is needed. Stir in herbs and taste again for seasoning.

5. Turn the tomatoes right side up, shaking out any drops of water inside, and fill each with the pork-and-rice filling. Spoon any remaining filling into the bottom of a casserole dish that will fit the tomatoes, and arrange the filled tomatoes on top – they should hold each other in place with a few gaps in between. Top each tomato with its chapeau (hat). Add a drop of olive oil onto each and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

6. Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to the oven and cook for 20 minutes until the top of the filling is golden brown. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.

7. You can use capsicum or courgette too, instead of tomatoes.



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