Provencal Stuffed Vegetables

Enjoy a taste of Provence with Alex Mackay's classic French vegetable dish, flavoured with garlic, basil and olive oil.
By Alex Mackay
Provencal Stuffed Vegetables
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

Main

  • 4 baby aubergines
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 and a half lemons
  • 2 round courgettes
  • 8 small tomatoes
  • 4 baby artichokes
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, leaves picked from the stalks
  • 50 g breadcrumbs, blended with a little fresh basil and garlic
  • 50 g finely grated parmesan

For the stuffing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large courgette, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of leaves basil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 strips of dried orange peel
  • 4 clove garlic, hopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 600 g very ripe tomatoes, (ideally Roma)cored and chopped, or 500g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100 ml water
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • brown sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

2. Slice off the aubergine tops and halve them lengthways. Cut a criss-cross pattern in the flesh. Place the aubergine halves in a large roasting tray and brush with 6 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

3. Slice the tops off the tomatoes with a serrated knife, then replace them on the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the roasting tray with the aubergines, drizzling with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

4. Roast the aubergines and tomatoes, removing the tomatoes after 10 minutes and roasting the aubergines for a further 15 minutes until the flesh is completely softened.

5. Meanwhile, remove the tough outer leaves from the artichokes until you reach the white centre of each one. Trim the base and peel off the tough outer layer of the stalk.

6. Briskly simmer the prepared artichokes in a pan of salted water to which the lemon juice has been added for 20 minutes or until the blade of a small knife can be easily inserted into the base of the artichokes. Set aside the cooked artichokes to cool in their own cooking liquid. Drain, halve and cut out the hairy, central chokes.

7. Cut the round courgettes into six pieces lengthways. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the courgettes and cook for 5 minutes; drain, plunge into iced water to cool, then drain. Scoop out the seed-filled centres of the courgette slices, finely chop and reserve them for the filling.

8. To make the tomato sauce heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion, orange peel and garlic and sweat over a low heat for 5 minutes until soft and transparent.

9. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring now and then.

10. Puree the tomato sauce until smooth using a hand blender or jug blender. Strain through a fine sieve and season well with salt, cayenne pepper and brown sugar.

11. To make the stuffing, heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened, without browning.

12. Add the chopped courgette and reserved courgette centres to the pan. Cook this over a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the courgette is completely soft.

13. Puree the courgette mixture in the food processor with the basil leaves until fine.

14. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

15. Add the roast tomatoes, artichoke halves and courgette pieces to the roasting tray with the aubergine halves.

16. Spread some of the stuffing mixture over the vegetables in the roasting tray. Lift off the tomato 'lids', spoon a little filling inside each tomato, then top once more with the lids.

17. Sprinkle the basil breadcrumbs and Parmesan over the vegetables and bake for 10 minutes until the crumbs are crisp and golden.

18. Meanwhile, gently reheat the tomato sauce.

19. Serve the baked vegetables with the tomato sauce.

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