As a child I spent long summer holidays in Normandy, France. One of my favorite meal was my grandmother’s meat-stuffed tomatoes and peppers. It is very simple to make and always delicious especially when you serve it with a home-made tomato sauce. It can also be prepared with zucchini.
We prepared this recipe with our herb garden treasures such as basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley to flavor the meat and tomato sauce.
We usually bought a pre-made meat mixture with pork and veal or pork and beef. If your tomatoes/peppers are too small and you have too much meat you can still cook the extra meat as large meat balls and enjoy them with the tomato sauce. It is as delicious a meal when re-heated and you can also freeze the cooked stuffed vegetables.
For 6 servings you will need:
– 3 small green or red bell peppers and 3 medium tomatoes (you can decide to do all tomatoes, or all green peppers, or zucchini). Cut the tops away and recover all the inside of the tomatoes in a bowl
– 1 cup finely chopped onions for the meat mixture (plus 1 cup for the tomato sauce)
– 1 pound ground beef or veal
– 1 pound ground pork (sometimes I buy meatloaf or sausage pre-mixed at the butcher)
– 2 cloves minced garlic (and 2 more for the tomato sauce)
– 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (and another 1/4 cup for the tomato sauce)
– 1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves (and another 1/4 cup for the tomato sauce)
– 2 egg yolks
– 2 tbsps. bread crumbs or gluten free crumbs
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– A ” Herbes de Provence” spice mix you can buy in a specialty store (you can do without it). It usually contains dried thyme, savory, fennel, marjoram, laurel, rosemary, lavender and tarragon in different combinations…
– For the tomato sauce you will need to prepare 8 to 12oz with the inside of the tomatoes and some extra fresh tomatoes and/or a very good quality canned sauce
– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
– Empty the tomatoes and peppers and toss the peppers seeds. Keep the tomatoes inside and chop in very small cubes. Keep the tops, you will put them back on the tomatoes when they go in the oven. They will look nice on the vegetables when served.
– Mix the meat in a large bowl with the chopped onions, chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, garlic, egg yolks salt and pepper. No need to pre-cook anything!
– Pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep. Stuff the tomatoes and green peppers with the mixture and place in the baking dish. Put the tops back on. Bake until the vegetables are very tender and the filling is heated through. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes.
For the tomato sauce:
– Cook the minced large onion with 2 tbsps. olive oil, salt and pepper until translucid
– Add the tomatoes saved insides and make sure they get tender
– Add the tomato canned sauce or extra tomatoes (4 to 6 medium ones) chopped very finely and add the fresh basil, parsley, minced garlic, and 1 to 2 tbsps. “Herbes de Provence” mix
– Let it stir on medium heat while the tomatoes and peppers are cooking in the oven.
I usually serve this with rice or quinoa.
The vegetarian version replaces the meat with quinoa or whole rice (all pre-cooked and well drained). Add the same herbs, the egg yolks, and spices plus a 1/2 to 1 cup pine nuts to the rice/quinoa. This is particularly delicious with lost of fresh basil. Add 1 to 2 tbsps. olive oil so it’s not too dry. The tomatoes will cook for 20 to 30 minutes in the oven at the same temperature.
Serve and enjoy this deliciously flavored meal.