Provencal Stuffed Vegetables (Legumes farcis à la Provençale)

This dish really belongs to one of my first memories of the South of France, eaten in a restaurant we adored as children for its simple cuisine and the huge basket of crudités we’d find on our table when we arrived.

Jeany Cronk

With this dish you can vary the vegetables and I think it’s lovely to use a mixture of aubergine, courgettes and tomatoes. The meat is generally a mixture of beef and pork, seasoned with herbs and spices. Funnily this is also how the word “farce” (stuffing) acquired it’s original theatrical meaning; i.e. a pleasant, often comical mixture of several sketches.

Ingredients

  • Vegetables: 2 peppers (any colour), 1 large beef tomato, 1 aubergine, 2 courgettes – you can use any combination but make sure they’re not over ripe or they will disintegrate in the oven!
  • 500g each pork and beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 30g Dijon mustard
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 5g each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, crushed as fine as possible
  • 1 handful each of fresh parsley, basil and oregano. You can use two teaspoons of Herbes de Provence if you don’t have fresh
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Set your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wash the vegetables and dry them. Cut the top off the tomato and round courgette if you have one, spoon the inside out carefully and retain the top.

Cut in half (lengthways) the courgettes and aubergines, and with the help of a knife and spoon, take out most of the flesh but be careful not to cut right through to the bottom. You should be left with little vegetable boats ready for the filling. Season well with salt and olive oil.

In a mixing bowl put your meat, mustard, garlic, lemon and herbs. Season and mix well. Top tip – to test the meat mixture for flavour make a tiny burger patty and cook in a pan with a little olive oil, adjust seasoning accordingly. Once you’re happy with the mix fill your vegetables and make sure there’s a nice amount of meat in each of them. If you have any spare roll into meat balls and freeze for another day.

Put them in a large baking tray and cook for 30-40 minutes. The vegetables need to be nice and tender, but make sure they don’t totally fall apart. A nice touch is to add a bit of goats cheese or Mozzarella on top right at the end and some fresh herbs.

This dish works well with a side serving of rice, or just salad and some crusty bread… and of course a glass of Mirabeau Rosé. We like Classic with this one. Bon appétit !