Tomate Farci

Beef steak tomatoes Two years ago, I lived with a family in France for a month and a half in an attempt to learn French and travel. Looking back on my decision to lodge with a family I had never met and only corresponded with very briefly through email, it is amazing to me that it turned into the best summer of my life.

Stuffed tomatoes France is a sensory place and, to some, overwhelmingly so. The people are too French, the language is too formal, the food is too rich. But to condemn the French for their idiosyncrasies is to ignore the very thing that makes them and their country so remarkable. France is a place steeped in history and tradition. Trust me, you can practically see Baudelaire scribble in his corner booth at Les Deux Maggots and feel the tension of warring German and French influences in Alsace and Lorraine.

View of Paris from the Sacre Coeur

View of Paris from the Sacre Coeur

One of the ways that France preserves their rich, formal history is through food prepared in the very same way. Unfortunately for me, being lactose intolerant hampers my ability to enjoy the wide variety of cream sauces and cheeses that are so integral to French cuisine. So, imagine my surprise when my adopted French family revealed to me the Provencal style of French cooking. Simple food prepared with the informality of familiarity and the richness of love. This is one of the recipes I learned that summer. It is the perfect meal for a busy parent who wants to use leftovers (anything can be stuffed into the cavity) and it’s truly a perfect family-style meal.

Tomate Farci

Tomate Farci


6 large tomatoes (beefsteak are the best or sturdy heirlooms because they can stand up the best in high heat)

½ pound ground lamb

½ pound ground beef

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp cinnamon

1 yellow onion

1 cup of quinoa

2 cups of chicken broth

1 red pepper

¾ cup grated gruyere


Slice the top off the tomatoes but reserve for later. Sprinkle salt in the tomato cavity and set aside upside down on a plate to capture excess moisture for 10 to 15 minutes. This will ensure that your cooked tomatoes aren’t soggy.

Combine one cup of quinoa (or rice if you prefer it) with two cups of chicken broth. If you are using vegetable broth add some prune juice to liven up the flavor! Let this boil and then set to simmer for around 15 minutes or until the moisture is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions on medium-low heat for 20 minutes before adding the meat and cooking until it is brown. Add the spices, stir for a minute more to release the flavors and then allow to cool slightly before mixing it with the cooked quinoa.

Stuff the cavities of each tomato with the mixture and grate the cheese, be generous, on top before replacing the tomato hat. Place them on a tray lined with aluminum foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

If you have extra stuffing left over depending on the size of your tomatoes, I like to create a bed for the tomatoes to rest on in a serving dish. It also makes for a lovely presentation!

Vegetarian option

Eliminate the ground meat, swap vegetable broth for chicken broth and add:

¼ cup chopped apple

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tbs hot or mild Dijon mustard

Zest from one lemon

*You can add an egg to the tomato a few minutes before taking them out of the oven to add extra protein and a runny yolk makes a great sauce.


  1. says

    I love tomatoes… in anything!! How lucky you were to experience life as a “French native”! This recipe looks easy enough for even me to try. And you could get really creative with all the fillings!

    • says

      My experience was amazing, mostly because of the food I was able to eat! I agree, the hollowed out tomato is the perfect vehicle for any number of fillings. Let me know what you end up using!

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