Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice and Sausage Meat

August 20, 2017
By Holly Jennings

Mid-August is not a great time to turn on the oven in Richmond, Virginia. But it is a great time to enjoy the masses of locally grown height-of-the-season tomatoes tumbling out of farmer’s markets and gardens. Thanks to Odette Podevin, my French Patroness of Cooking, I knew just what to do with my own bottomless supply, churned out by our plot in a community garden. I would make Tomates Farcies au Riz à la Chair à Saucisse, or Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice and Sausage Meat.


Last Sunday, along with having the just-right ingredients, I also had the just-right occasion: a thank you dinner for our neighbors, the Huff Family, who looked after our apartment while we were in France, earlier this summer.


In addition to serving stuffed tomatoes, a traditional home-style French dish, I already had two key parts of the thank you meal, direct from France, stashed in the freezer: a Basque-style cake for dessert and two naturally leavened baguettes (called La Parisse). Cheeses, pâtés, roasted beet salad, and French wine filled the table, but it was Odette’s recipe that was the star. And we all agreed, it is a dish worth turning on the oven for, even in mid-August.

Thank your for the recipe, Odette! (From left to right: Peter Huff, Phoebe Huff, me, my husband, Mike [with a shout-out to Odette’s husband, Roger], Morgan Huff, and Bridgette Huff)


Tomates farcies au riz et à la chair à saucisse

Serves 6


Here is Odette’s recipe with a few minor modifications to account for differences in ingredients in France and the US. This recipe isn’t hard to make—no special skills are needed—but it does require a fair amount of prep work before the tomatoes can be stuffed and baked: the sausage mixture has to be made, the rice cooked, the tomatoes emptied and the tops chopped. You can lessen the work required the day of making it by mixing the sausage filling the night before, which is a good idea anyway to allow the flavors of the herbs, shallots, and garlic to infuse the meat. The rice can be made in the morning, and the tomatoes prepped ahead of time too.


Odette is not a fussy cook. She uses her hands for just about everything, measures only when absolutely required, and tastes as she goes to make sure what she is making is own track and is to her liking. You can do the same here, adjusting the herbs or quantity of garlic, for example, to your liking. But if you want this dish to taste quintessentially French, be sure to include tarragon and shallots, and don’t skimp on the butter.


  • Unsalted butter, for the baking dish and tops of tomatoes and rice
  • 7 medium or 10 small tomatoes (about 2¼ pounds)
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped, for garnish


For the rice:

  • 1½ cups long-grain rice, cooked in water seasoned with 1 cup vegetable stock, 1 vegetable bouillon, 1 teaspoon instant vegetable bouillon paste, or 1 scant teaspoon salt (see Tip)
  • Chopped tomato flesh and tops (from above)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons finely chopped
  • Tarragon leaves (1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or ¼ heaping teaspoon dry)
  • Thyme leaves (1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or ¼ heaping teaspoon dry)


For the stuffing:

  • 1 pound ground pork with about 25% fat (or ½ pound ground pork and ½ pound ground veal)
  • 2 to 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1/3 cup finely chopped
  • Tarragon leaves (2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh or ¾ teaspoon dry)
  • Thyme leaves (1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or ½ scant teaspoon dry)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ heaping teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • Splash of whatever French wine you’re serving with the meal or water
  • ½ cup cooked long-grain rice (from above)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a large baking dish.
  2. Cut the top quarter of the tomatoes off and set aside. With a spoon, gently scoop out most of the inside of the tomatoes into a large bowl, but don’t remove too much. You want about a 3/8-inch-thick wall remaining. Set the bowl of tomato flesh aside. (If you want to be fancy, deseed the tomatoes. To do that, take a very small or slender spoon, like an iced tea spoon, and gently scoop out the seeds from between the membranes, working over a fine-mesh strainer to catch the juices. Discard the seeds, then go back in with a slightly larger spoon to hollow out the tomatoes, reserving the pulp. Odette didn’t bother to deseed the tomatoes, and I believe most home cooks don’t.)
  3. Put the hollowed-out tomatoes in the baking dish. Season the inside of the tomatoes with a little salt, then turn them over to drain.
  4. Return to the reserved tomato tops: Remove and discard the center core and stem if there is one, then roughly chop them. Add the chopped tomato to the bowl with the scooped-out tomato pulp and any accumulate tomato juice.
  5. Set aside ½ cup of the cooked rice for sausage filling, then add the rest of the cooked rice to the bowl with the tomato along with parsley, tarragon, and thyme. Mix everything together using your hands, then season to taste with salt, if needed.
  6. Place all the ingredients for the sausage, except the egg and wine or water, in a mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix everything together until well combined. Add the egg and mix in, then add the splash of wine or water and the cooked rice and mix to combine. (For the best flavor, make this the day before you plan to stuff and bake the tomatoes, adding the rice the day of assembly.)
  7. Turn the tomatoes upright and, using your hands, fill the tomatoes with the sausage stuffing. Dot the tops with small pieces of butter, then sprinkle them with finely chopped fresh parsley.
  8. Using your hands, scoop up the seasoned rice mixture and place it in the empty spaces between the tomatoes.
  9. Pour a little water in the baking dish, around the tomatoes. Dot the surface of the rice with small pieces of butter.
  10. Put in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, uncovered, until the sausage filling is cooked through (it will feel firm to the touch when cooked). Serves 6.


Flavor Tip: For best flavor, Odette seasons cooking water with a vegetable bouillon cube, rather than salt. That goes for anything she cooks in water: rice, potatoes, green beans, and so on. I like this idea, though some, maybe all, bouillon cubes or instant bouillon pastes or bases include ingredients you may not like to have in your cooking. So, pay attention to the labels or, best of all, make your own vegetable bouillon paste. Here is recipe on the site 101 Cookbooks. This way of boosting flavor in food is not identical to, but shares a philosophy of seasoning with Salted Herbs.

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