Vegetable Farci is one of my favorite traditional plates here in the south of France. It’s pretty hard to top a lazy Sunday lunch sat in a sunny square with friends, a glass of rosé in hand and a warm plate of local vegetables stuffed with sausage, cheese and fine herbs.
When beginning my Clean Cuisine challenge and trying to think of creative vegetarian dishes that would satisfy my meat-loving husband it seemed like a no-brainer to try and recreate these veggies we love so much without the meat. At first I considered stuffing them with quinoa or whole grain rice but decided that would be altering the dish too much. I wanted to keep the stuffing soft and a bit cheesy like its sausage predecessor. So, in the end I decided on eggplant as the base. It is combined with roasted peppers, mushrooms and a little bit of cheese to make a lovely interior for roasted vegetables.
This is a great dish for entertaining because it is easily made ahead of time and just placed in the oven once your guests have arrived. It does require a bit of work but they are worth it!
The full recipe makes enough for 4-6 people as a main course, depending on what you are serving with it. The photo below shows how many I made more recently when cutting the recipe in half.
- 2 large or 4 small/medium eggplant (about 1200g/2.5-3lbs)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 4 oz (114g) leeks, sliced in half lengthwise, washed and thinly sliced (pale green and white parts only)
- 5 oz. (140g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon capers, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground himalayan or sea salt
- ground pepper
- ⅓ cup (35g) finely grated parmesan cheese plus a small handful for sprinkling
- 1 handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- For stuffing:
- 6 small or 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes
- 4-6 round courgettes (zuchinni) or summer squash (or 4 small/2 large long courgettes)
- 1 large red pepper or 2 small
- (This depends a lot on size too - if the tomatoes and round courgettes are pretty large they can be cut in half and stuffed. If they are cuite small they can be stuffed on their own. You have to use a bit of judgement.)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Rub the eggplants with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast the eggplant until soft on the inside, about 45 minutes to 1 hour or more depending on the size of the eggplants. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. When they are cool enough to handle pierce the skin with a knife and peel away the skin. Discard the skins and chop the eggplant.
- Turn the oven from bake to broil (grill) and roast the peppers. You can do this by placing the whole peppers on a tray lined with aluminum foil and placing them directly under the heat. You have to watch the peppers and rotate them once each side is nicely charred. Alternatively, you can cut the peppers in half and scoop out the seeds. Place each half, cut side down, on your aluminum covered tray and place directly under the heat to roast until charred. I prefer this method because you don't have to flip the peppers or deal with the seeds in the next step.
- Once the peppers are charred remove them from the oven and place them immediately in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film to allow the peppers to steam. Once they have released their steam and are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and remove the seeds (if you roasted them whole). Cut the roasted peppers into a dice.
- While the peppers are roasting, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook the leeks until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are soft and have released their juices. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the roasted eggplant and peppers to the pan and sauté 7-10 minutes, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Season to taste with one teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the capers, ⅓ cup of cheese and the parsley.
- To prepare vegetables for stuffing: Slice a small bit off the bottom of the tomatoes and round courgettes to allow them to sit perfectly upright in a dish. Slice the top off of the tomatoes and round courgettes and, using a melon baller or spoon, scoop the seedy insides out of the vegetables. Alternatively, if they are on the big side, cut them in half first and then scoop out the seedy insides. If using long courgettes, slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut in half crosswise if they are very large to make nice serving sizes. Cut the peppers into 4-6 pieces each to make nice stuffing size pieces. Generously salt and pepper the insides of the each of the vegetables before stuffing with the eggplant mixture.
- Place the stuffed vegetables on a lightly oiled baking sheet or dish. Sprinkle the tops with more grated parmesan cheese and roast in a 350F/180C oven until vegetables are soft and stuffing is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Serve with a nice tossed green salad and crusty bread.