For several years before I got married, my mum and I took summer holidays together, sometimes inviting my brother or my now husband to join us for a week or two. Our holidays always went along the same lines, observing our family traditions. We would rent a gite somewhere in rural France – Lac d’Annecy, Brittany, Normandy, Corsica – and spend our time visiting nearby markets, walking, having long relaxed breakfasts in the morning sun and cooking the sort of dishes that she and I love. Stuffed tomatoes is one such dish and would appear at least once or twice per holiday in various guises.
French markets always seem to be overflowing with beautiful tomatoes of all varieties including a good selection of giant varieties perfect for stuffing such as Marmande, Brandywine and Coeur de bouef. These big tomatoes are increasingly easy to get hold of over here, so much so that even my local supermarket stocks them. My home-grown Marmandes haven’t even flowered yet so I rather jumped the gun making stuffed tomatoes at this time of year but I’m eager to get into holiday mode, complete with flip-flops and dinners in the garden. And you know that by the time I’m harvesting my tomatoes the summer will be over.
Since our holidays entailed staying in minimally stocked, rented accommodation we usually kept our cooking nice and simple to save wasting too much and to make the most of the wonderful fresh ingredients. This recipe is a take on our Corsican stuffed tomatoes; they are filled with good quality sausage meat and breadcrumbs, favoured with the herbs that grow wild on the Corsican maquis – rosemary, thyme, oregano and juniper – splashed with olive oil and white wine then baked. The breadcrumbs soak up all the flavour and the tomatoes soften and collapse in on themselves, perfect for moping up with the rest of that nice loaf of bread you bought to make crumbs with. Please excuse the yellow pepper in the photo below, husband is not a tomato fan which is why he doesn’t always get invited on holiday!
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
- 4 large, ripe tomatoes
- 1 shallot
- 400g sausage meat
- 75g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 crushed juniper berries
- 4 basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 100ml white wine
Slice the tops off the tomatoes and set aside. Hollow out the tomatoes and sprinkle a little salt inside, turn upside down and allow some of the juices to run out while you prepare the filling.
Finely chop the shallot and cook in a little oil until soft.
Mix the sausage meat, bread crumbs, thyme, oregano, rosemary and juniper. Stir in the shallot and a little salt and pepper.
Place a basil leaf in the base of each tomato then spoon in the filling. Drizzle over a little olive oil then pour the wine over and around the tomatoes. Replace the lids and bake at 190°C for 45 minutes.