Tomatoes Maison

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 113: Vegetable Bounty

My mother used to make dishes like this when she had a little stale bread on hand and some leftover meat from a roast or stew. Most any meat — beef, veal, pork, or ham as well as chicken — will work, adding a little richness to the stuffing and transforming leftovers into a fresh new dish. The tomato insides make a delicious sauce for the stuffed tomatoes, which can be served as a first course, or as a main, preceded by a soup. —Jacques Pépin

Serves 4 as a first course

4 ounces leftover country-style bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
3/4 cup room-temperature water
6 ounces leftover meat from a roast (pork, veal, or beef) or cold cuts, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 scallions, trimmed (leaving some green) and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 mushrooms (about 3 ounces), cleaned and coarsely chopped (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
4 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Drop the bread pieces into a bowl and sprinkle with the water. Squeeze the bread gently until it absorbs the water and becomes soft. Add the meat, onion, scallions, mushrooms, garlic, 1.2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the egg. Mix well. The mixture should hold together but not be pasty.

Using a sharp knife, remove the top 1/2 inch from the stem end of each tomato; reserve these "caps." Scoop out the insides of each tomato with a metal measuring spoon or other sharp spoon, leaving only the fleshy shell of the tomato.

Coarsely chop the tomato insides. (You should have about 2 cups.) Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Stand the tomato shells upright in a gratin dish and fill them with the stuffing. Place the reserved tomato caps on top, and pour the chopped tomato mixture around the tomatoes.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the tomatoes are nicely browned and the stuffing mixture is cooked and hot throughout. Serve with the surrounding juices.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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