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Petits Farcis de Provence
by Bruno Loubet from Mange Tout (Ebury Press)
Stuffed vegetables are a great Provencal dish to cook for a big party because you can precook them & simply reheat them just before serving. Served directly from the cooking dish, these look great & of course, to complete the Provencal experience, make sure you have some rose in the fridge.
Prep time 30 mins
Cooking time 45 mins
6 mini aubergines (or a couple of normal sized ones split lengthways, & roasted as a half, once filled with the farce)
6 small squashes (Nigel used small round courgettes, but small normal ones split lengthways work well)
6 red onions
6 vine-rip tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 x 400g can of good quality, chopped tomatoes
a handful of black olives
2 garlic cloves, chopped
12 sage leaves, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
about 100ml boiling water
2 tbsp basil leaves
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
100g soft goat’s cheese
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt & pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 195C/fan 175C/Gas 5½.
2. Cut the tops off the vegetables & scoop out the centres with a small knife or spoon. Keep the veg tops.
3. Cut all the vegetable insides finely & place in a small pan with 2 tbsp of the olive oil.
4. Cook them over a low heat until soft, then remove from the heat & set aside.
5. For the farce, place the couscous in a bowl, season with salt & add the olive oil.
6. Pour over the boiling water, mix well, then press the top with the back of the spoon to compress the couscous.
7. Cover with cling film & leave to absorb the water for about 5 mins.
8. Place the cooked vegetable trimmings in a food processor with the herbs, goats’ cheese & breadcrumbs.
9. Process until well chopped, then place in a bowl with the couscous, Parmesan & egg.
10. Mix well with a spoon & check the seasoning.
11. You need to start to cook the vegetables before they go in the oven.
12. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tin placed over a medium heat.
13. Add the hollowed- out aubergines, squash & onions & start to colour them all over – this should take about 4 mins.
14. Once lightly coloured, turn the heat off, lift the vegetables out of the tin & add the tomatoes, olives, garlic & herbs.
15. Stir to mix.
16. Fill the vegetables with farce, then replace them in a roasting tin on top of the tomato mixture. Put the veg tops in the tin to cook (not on top of the veg).
17. Place the tin in the oven for 30 mins, until the vegetables are soft & the stuffing is piping. After 20 mins, pop the veg tops on top of the stuffing, which needs to be crispy.
• You can add 150g of minced lamb to the farce but you will need to reduce the quantities of couscous & goats’ cheese to 50g. Add the uncooked lamb when you add the Parmesan & egg.