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DigiBites: Chef Charlie Returns From The Riviera – Did Not Break The Bank At Monte Carlo – But Has Recipes!

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Photo: Epicurean Exchange

Bonjour mes Amis!

We have returned from our autumn tour of the Côte d’Azur.  The weather was brilliant, and our daily adventures through Monte Carlo, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Ventimiglia, Italy (just 10 minutes over the border from Monte Carlo) and all the best spots in Southeast Provence: Nice, Cannes, Saint Paul, Mougins, and Iles St. Honorat were spectacular!

Sharing one of the many recipes we produced during our stay.  This was a recipe that we prepared in a cooking class with my good friend and colleague, Rosa Jackson, owner and chef teacher at Les Petits Farcis Cooking School.  Since the weather, climate and growing seasons are virtually identical, the produce needed for this dish are available here as they were at the Cours Saleya Market in Old Town Nice!  We used a Brandywine heirloom tomato and suggest using the same, as our markets are still showcasing the last of our season’s best tomatoes.

From experience, suggest you choose tomatoes that are on the firmer-side as they need to stand up to the hollowing-out and the cooking.  Our instructor mentions a Moroccan spice called “Ras el Hanout” which is similar to a curry blend.  You can substitute a little curry powder instead.  We served these as a first-course with a little side of dressed spring mix, and I will plan to share the remaining menu in subsequent posts.

Bon Appetit!
If anyone is interested in this particular tour in 2019 and 2020, please let Chef Charlie know!  Booking now!

– Chef Charlie

Tomatoes Stuffed with Summer Vegetables

Serves 6

Though the original version of les petits farcis (little stuffed vegetables) includes meat, vegetarian versions abound. This ratatouille-style variation with a Moroccan touch is one of the most colorful and delicious.

6 round tomatoes
3 medium zucchini (courgettes)
2 red onions
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp brown sugar
A handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves
A handful of flat parsley leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
Olive oil
1 tsp ras el hanout spice mix, plus more for sprinkling on top Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the top off each tomato and set aside. Hollow out the tomatoes using a spoon, reserving the pulp. Salt the hollowed-out tomatoes and turn them upside-down on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Set side for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C).
Wash the zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) dice. Dice the onions and chop the garlic.

In a frying pan, sauté the onions in about 1 tbsp olive oil. When they begin to soften, add the zucchini and sauté until pale golden. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, then add the reserved tomato pulp and sugar. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the tomatoes have reduced. Season with salt, pepper and ras el hanout.

Finely chop the herbs and add them to the filling.

Place the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, stuff them with the zucchini mixture and top with their re- served “hats”. Spread any remaining mixture around the tomatoes, sprinkle with ras el hanout, and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Serve warm rather than hot.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Yes. Nice to see some vegetarian offerings. I’ll be trying to source your ingredients and check back when I give this one a try.

  2. these are fun. my friends and I are amateur chefs and always looking for good new ideas so these have been right on. do the articles run on specific days or just when the chef feels like cooking? we look forward to them and wondered

    • Dear Lori and friends –
      I’m glad you are enjoying my posts and preparing the recipes.
      We really don’t have a schedule; usually it’s simply based on time, space and what other news is happening in the 24/680.
      I’ll keep posting regularly if you all keep cooking!
      – Chef Charlie
      You could always join me for a class in Orinda!

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