Barden's Bites: Petits Farcis de Provence

Nigel Barden writes: "Bruno Loubet is a Michelin starred chef, hailing from Bordeaux, who has headed up kitchens for culinary luminaries such as Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann. Having first rocked up in the UK in 1982, we lost him to Australia for eight years, with his wife Catherine and his three young girls, before being lured back to open up 'Bistrot Bruno Loubet' in Farringdon in 2010 and more recently, 'The Grain Store' in King's Cross. He loves cooking with vegetables and his book 'Mange Tout' is in praise of them. This stuffed vegetable dish is a Provencal classic and cries out for an interesting rosé, such as our Mirabeau Rosé, Côtes de Provence 2012, made from a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, £9.99. Alternatively, try an intriguing but beautifully elegant Sancerre Rosé (Le Rabault, Joseph Mellot 2010) made from the Pinot Noir grape, £15.49."

Petits Farcis de Provence by Bruno Loubet from Mange Tout

Many artists have been inspired by the light, smells and colours of Provence. Go to a local market in a Provençal village and somehow you can’t help getting excited by the bounty of riches. It feels as if there is a natural energy around, a feel-good factor! This is a place you associate with holiday and friends, very much like its cooking. Stuffed vegetables are a great Provençal dish to cook for a big party because you can precook them and simply reheat them just before serving.

Served directly from the cooking dish, these look great and of course, to complete the Provençal experience, make sure you have some rosé in the fridge.

Serves 6
6 mini aubergines
6 small squashes
6 red onions
6 vine-ripe tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 x 400g can good-quality chopped tomatoes
a handful of black olives
2 garlic cloves, chopped
12 sage leaves, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
Farce (stuffing)
200g semolina couscous
1 tbsp olive oil
about 100ml boiling water
2 tbsp basil leaves
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
100g soft goats’ cheese
2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50g Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 195°C/fan 175°C/ Gas 5½. Cut the tops off the vegetables and scoop out the centres with a small knife or spoon. Cut all the vegetable insides finely and place in a small pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cook them over a low heat until soft, then remove from the heat and set aside.

For the farce, place the couscous in a bowl, season with salt and add the olive oil. Pour over the boiling water, mix well, then press the top with the back of the spoon to compress the couscous. Cover with cling film and leave to absorb the water for about
5 minutes.

Place the cooked vegetable trimmings in a food processor with the herbs, goats’ cheese and breadcrumbs. Process until well chopped, then place in a bowl with the couscous, Parmesan and egg. Mix well with a spoon and check the seasoning.

You need to start to cook the vegetables before they go in the oven. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a roasting tin placed over a medium heat. Add the hollowed-out aubergines, squash and onions and start to colour them all over – this should take about 4 minutes. Once lightly coloured, turn the heat off, lift the vegetables out of the tin and add the tomatoes, olives, garlic and herbs. Stir to mix.

Fill the vegetables with the farce, then replace them in the roasting tin on top of the tomato mixture. Place the tin in the oven for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the stuffing is piping hot.

Bruno’s Tips
If you like you can add 150g of minced lamb to the farce but you will need to reduce the quantities of couscous and goats’ cheese to 50g. Add the uncooked lamb when you add the Parmesan and egg.
Buy Mirabeau Rosé at 20% OFF this week to automatically enter a prize draw to win one of two copies of Mange Tout by Bruno Loubet, courtesy of Ebury Press. We will contact the winners to send you your prize.

Enjoy 20% OFF the Mirabeau Rosé, Côtes de Provence, 2012 for one week. Enter promotional code - Mirabeau - at the basket.

Mange Tout by Bruno Loubet (Ebury Press, £25)
Follow Bruno on Twitter here


Written by: Nigel Barden

Nigel Barden 


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