I’m Mardi from eat. live. travel. write. and I’m here to share a dish I’ve created as my entry in the Mushrooms Canada “Win your way to FBC2016” contest. I’ve just spent the best part of my summer in France 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.
A simple, yet tasty classic French dish I love 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 colours are so vibrant they look so much prettier!). 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!
Today, though, since the brief was “Blend & Extend your favourite appetizer recipe for the chance to win the Mushrooms Canada “Appetizer Spotlight” at FBC2016” I’ve chosen to stick with the classic tomatoes – using cherry tomatoes to make an hors d’oeuvre and lightening up the filling 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!
Mini tomates farcies (Sausage and mushroom stuffed cherry tomatoes)
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
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. While the tomatoes are draining begin the filling.
5. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, blitz the mushrooms and garlic cloves until finely chopped.
6. 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.
7. Make sure you are using a baking dish that will fit the tomatoes in snugly.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes or until the filling has reached a temperature of 160˚F (use a meat thermometer to check).
11. 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 handle, unless they are secured with a pick - see below).
Makes 32, so approx. 16 servings
* Note that for presentation the stems are very pretty but for a party, I would remove the stems and pierce each tomato with a long bamboo pick to make for easier eating (one bite) and no worrying about accidentally eating the stem!
Thanks to all the FBC Members who joined the Appetizer Spotlight competition with their own blended recipe!