"Any good home cook in France has her own special recipe for stuffed tomatoes. My mother, aunt, cousins, and niece all made their versions when the season yielded large and inexpensive tomatoes. For mine, I combine mushrooms and zucchini with meat, onions, garlic, and hot pepper to a make a flavorful and moist stuffing. I use a mixture of hot Italian pork sausage and ground beef.
"I cut a good 3/4-inch slice from the stem end of each tomato and then hollow out the tomatoes. These top slices and the insides of the tomatoes are pureed in a food processor to become the sauce. If you have extra tomato puree, it can be used for soup, pasta, or even drinks." --Jacques Pépin
Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes
- 6 large not-too-ripe tomatoes (about 10 ounces each; 3 1/2 pounds total)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons potato starch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- 5 ounces baby bella or cremini mushrooms, washed, cubed, and coarsely chopped in a food processor (about 2 cups)
- 2 small firm zucchini (8 ounces total), cubed and coarsely chopped in the food processor (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or minced chives, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces hot Italian sausage patties, bulk Italian sausage, or links, casings removed
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the stems of the tomatoes, if any, and reserve for decoration. Cut a thick slice (about 3/4 inch) from the stem end of each tomato. Using a sharp spoon (a metal measuring spoon is good), hollow out each tomato to make a receptacle, leaving a 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick shell.
- Process the slices and insides of the tomatoes in a food processor. (You should have about 3 cups; if you have more, keep the excess for a soup or sauce.) Transfer to a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the olive oil, and potato starch, and mix well with a whisk.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it comes to a boil. Strain through a food mill or sieve. Set aside.
- Combine the mushrooms, zucchini, onion, garlic, parsley, jalapeno pepper, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper, ground beef, and sausage in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Arrange the tomato receptacles side by side, hollow side up, in a large gratin dish and fill with the stuffing mix (about 1 cup per tomato). Place the stems, if you have them, on top for decoration. Pour the sauce around and over the tomatoes.
- Bake the tomatoes for 1 hour. Serve with some of the sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley or chives.
Recipes from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.