Les Petits Farcis - Serves 6
The food traditions of different cultures is a passion of mine. Where the traditions came from, why they were made and what are the flavors. Taking guests on Culinary trips to Julia Child’s once summer home means immersing everyone in the traditional cuisine of Nice Nicoise cuisine. The iconic dish Les Petits Farcis does just that. or requires And to squeeze in the last bit of summer, try my Petits Farcis. This dish is the signature dish of Nice, France using petite summer vegetables that are stuffed and baked. It's not a quick dish to prepare; I'd call it a "Sunday dish". They leftovers are are easy to reheat during the week.
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
2 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 orange zest strip, about 1 inch wide
Sea salt to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley (optional)
A bouquet garni - a bay leaf, sprigs of thyme, and parsley stems tied with string
The Stuffed Vegetables:
12 small vegetables such as tomatoes, pattypan or globe squash, each about 2-3 inches in diameter or medium zucchini, cut into 3 to 4-inch logs,
2 white onions (as part of your twelve vegetables) peeled, stems and about ½ inch of the flower end removed
Salt to taste
1 large white onion, finely chopped
¾ lb ground pork, lamb, or veal or spicy bulk sausage
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
¼ cup minced parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 cup hot water
For the sauce:
In a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, cover, and sweat until soft. Remove the lid and sauté for about 10 minutes. Do not allow to color.
Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they have rendered their juice, about 15 minutes being careful not to scorch the bottom.
Add the garlic, bouquet garni, and orange zest and season with salt. Stir once, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced by about one-third, 15 - 20 minutes. Add a splash of water or white wine if needed. Discard the bouquet garni and zest and season with salt. If desired, add the cayenne and stir in the basil or parsley, if using,
For the Vegetables:
While the tomato sauce is simmering, cut a thin slice off the stem end of each stuffing tomato. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the center, discarding the seeds and juice and reserving the flesh. Lightly salt the inside of each tomato, then place upside down on a paper towel to drain.
Using a melon baller, trim off the stems of the globe or pattypan squash and hollow the center leaving a ¼ to ⅓ inch shell. Reserve the vegetable pieces.
Trim the ends of the zucchini. Slice each zucchini crosswise into 4 equal lengths. One at a time, stand the pieces upright on an end. Using a melon baller, scoop out their centers, leaving the bottom intact and forming walls about ⅜ inch thick. Be careful not to cut through the walls. Reserve the flesh.
Fill a large saucepan three-fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the two onions and simmer until the outer 3 or 4 layers are cooked while the center is still firm. Remove and set aside to cool.
Slip the squash pieces into the boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until just softened, about 4 minutes. Remove the vegetable pieces and place them upside down to drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a baking dish large enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer without touching.
Carefully hollow out the onions saving the outer, larger layers for stuffing. Finely chop the remaining onion with the reserved vegetable bits.
In a sauté pan, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped vegetables and minced garlic and sauté stirring and tossing, until softened, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a plate and allow to cool. Once cool, place in a bowl with the sausage meat, herbes de Provence, parsley, fresh bread crumbs, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and stir to mix well. Add the egg and drizzle in about 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Using your hands, mix together gently. Sauté one small patty to taste and adjust seasoning.
Arrange the tomato and zucchini shells in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cavity of each with a little salt and drizzle with some of the remaining olive oil. Using a teaspoon, distribute the stuffing evenly among the vegetables, pressing gently with the back of the spoon. Pour the hot water into the bottom of the dish.
Bake the stuffed vegetables for 15 minutes then drizzle the top of the vegetables and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Continue to cook until the stuffing is golden brown, about another 15 minutes.
Warm the sauce over low heat. Spoon some of the sauce on each plate. Arrange the vegetables on top and serve sprinkles with reserved parsley.