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Petits Farcis A La Provencale – Provencal Filled Zucchinis

Provencal Petits Farcis

I know I did not post a new French Word feature last week so I thought I’d bring you a little bit of Provence where I grew up by sharing these "Petits Farcis a la Provencale" or Provencal Filled Vegetables. To say that I could eat these all 365 days of the year is no exaggeration. Even when I am sniffling and coughing away as I am today, I still want a piping hot mini zucchini filled with all the goodness that Spring and Summer can bring.

The vast majority of the people I know call these "petits farcis nicois" or little stuffed vegetables from Nice. We don’t. At least not in my family. We are not from the Alpes Maritimes where Nice is but from the Bouches Du Rhone where Provence is. We may all be different in this world but we are all proud of naming our roots, our region, our village. It’s by far lots more telling than race. It explains upbringings and traditions, identities and personalities. And food.

Preparing Provencal Stuffed Zucchini

Just with a multitude of other recipes, there are as many variations for "petits farcis" as there cooks to make them. Every town or cook on the Mediterranean coast has a preferred recipe. Some like to use rice, sausage and tomatoes as a filling. Others exclusively use torn day old bread pieces. Some add cheese. Some don’t. Some use traditional seasonings like oregano, basil, or herbes de Provence (without lavender where I am from – thank you very much). Others become more adventurous and add a pinch of cinnamon and raisins.

A picadillo inspired stuffed zucchini does sound really good right about now for some reason…Yes, you realize now that I am not one to lose my appetite when sick or coughing. I always marvel at people saying "could not eat a thing I was so sick".

Happy Mother's Day!

I absolutely love this time of year in Charleston. It is when I feel the strongest connections between my life in Provence and the one I am building here. I get to the market around 8am like we used to do back home and enjoy the quiet time before it gets crowded so I can get to know the vendors, exchange recipes, tips. No longer are they surprised that I buy headcheese at 8.30am or that I stuff eggs and milk in my bag next to a giant pork shank. They’re not surprised either when I bear a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat when I find out they carry leaf lard for my pie crusts or garlic flowers to pickle them.

Many months, sometimes years can go by before I get the chance to go home for a visit and being able to connect the dots that make me who I am today here with Bill is by far the greatest gift I have received in this life. Oh geez, it does sounds like I just had a birthday and got smacked with a little wisdom on the head…oops!

Purple Spring Onions

When I found that the guys selling pink radishes and purple onions also had eight balls zucchini, I literally jumped up and down inside my head. Or did I do it in real life? I don’t know! They did look at me funny. Oh wait! That could be because I bought a dozen of these at once. at $1 for two, who wouldn’t?! Yes, the ones I made here are all filled with local produce (except for the rice, salt and pepper) I was inspired. I had a plan.

Every week, my friend Anita posts gorgeous still life pictures of her farmers shopping on her Flickr stream which makes my excitement about our farmers market all the more understandable. She inspires me daily to kick butt but her new weekly blog feature Dinner On A Deadline also inspired me to get 12 zucchini instead of 6 the other day and make a double batch of petits farcis, just in case I would have to get dinner done fast but well one busy day.

Provencal Petits Farcis

Like Anita, I thoroughly plan our meals and food budget and even though I already implement many of the steps she and her readers share, I look forward to the weekly post for newly creative ways to balance it all and I love the recipes she shares. I love how openly she made her system available to all to learn from, contribute to or simply read and move on. That’s what I love about the food blogging community. And yes, I do love having Anita and Cameron as friends in real life too.

Like my mother and grandmother before me I tend to use tomatoes, sweet onions and eight ball zucchinis in the Spring. These little round squash are abundant at the farmers market here in town right now and so darn cute easy to use. Scoop, fill, bake. Eat. Mange! Use leftover rice, couscous, quinoa, use veal sausage, pork or mixed sausages. Skip the mushrooms, add some bell peppers. The possibilities are endless. Hope you give these a try!

Provencal Petits Farcis

Petits Farcis a la Provencale – Provencal Filled Zucchinis:

6 eight ball zucchinis (or tomatoes, peppers, etc..)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound sausage
1 cup shitake mushrooms (or your prefered kind), chopped
2 tomatoes
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
Cut the top off the zucchini and scoop the inside out. I don’t use it in the recipe but you could absolutely use it along with the other ingredients or to replace the rice. I save the insides for soup. Place the zucchinis in a baking pan and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and sautee the shallot and garlic for a minute. Add the sausage and cook until brown. Add the mushrooms and tomoates, and as soon as they start to release their moisture, add the rice. Cook for another couple of minutes and add the herbs, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool a few minutes.
Stuff the zucchini with the mixture, place the caps on and bake covered with tin foil for 15 minutes and uncovered for another 15 minutes.

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Jessica @ How Sweet May 18, 2010 um 8:32 pm

I have never even seen mini zucchini as such. How beautiful. The dish looks delicious!

m May 18, 2010 um 8:34 pm

Looks good! I love hearing about your roots and the different provinces and areas of France. The nuances are so unique and all are equally beautiful!

Wenderly May 18, 2010 um 8:50 pm

Those are just about the cutest things I've ever seen, I make many different kinds of stuffed veggies (husband is Greek) but I've never seen "ball" zucchinis before! I will keep my eyes peeled at my Farmer's Market, or do they only grow in the South?

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme May 18, 2010 um 8:55 pm

So beautiful! The beauty of your food makes each post a work of art. And the taste of these stuffed zucchini must be incredible. Thank you for sharing also about your life in France.

Wholesome Chow May 18, 2010 um 8:57 pm

Wow! I love your photos! Such awesome skills! Thanks for sharing!

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Allison May 18, 2010 um 9:48 pm

I made a dish similar to this last year, and planted eight ball zucchini specifically in my garden for this kind of meal. Let's hope they grow up soon!

Kilee Johnson May 18, 2010 um 9:52 pm

Your photos are so beautiful! I feel so relaxed when I look at them.

Unknown May 18, 2010 um 10:15 pm

They look so cute Helen. Makes me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

Jennifer May 19, 2010 um 12:06 am

As always absolutely amazing photos!! So inspirational, as is this recipe!

Janae' May 19, 2010 um 2:45 am

The stuffing is almost identical to my mother's stuffed bell pepper. It really brings back great memories. I'm inspired to have stuffed vegetables for dinner tonight. Thanks for the great recipe and idea!

Jen Yu May 19, 2010 um 3:42 am

*Squeeeeeeeeal*!!! It is impossible for you to NOT make food little and adorable. I now have proof that no matter what you make, it's so cute that I want to market it as toys for little children. It's not just the sweets, it's EVERYTHING ๐Ÿ˜‰ hee hee!!

Ruth Ann May 19, 2010 um 3:46 am

This looks so amazing! Your photos are so beautiful and have almost a calming feeling about them.

maier May 19, 2010 um 4:58 am

Will you be posting a recipe for the pickled onion flowers? That is all I can think about now.

Paula May 19, 2010 um 7:43 am

what a great idea with such tasty connection!

Cherine May 19, 2010 um 9:49 am

How gorgeous! These look wonderful!

bunkycooks May 19, 2010 um 1:07 pm

I love all of the ingredients with the squash and am thinking of all kinds of variations based on what looks good at the markets. Your life in Charleston sounds delightful and very similar to what I think of in Provence. How wonderful to find that here in the states.

Johanna May 19, 2010 um 1:36 pm

Oh! I have to try this, I really love zucchini…

DessertForTwo May 19, 2010 um 1:41 pm

How adorable! This makes me wish I planted eight ball zucchini instead of the straight long ones. Yellow ones would be pretty too!

Nan May 19, 2010 um 1:46 pm

Lovely post Helen. My husband adores but I grow weary of stuffed peppers. I shall use zucchini instead!

The Teacher Cooks May 19, 2010 um 1:57 pm

Your photography is amazing, Helen. When you tweeted about these I could not wait to see what you had done. Beautiful!

Serena May 19, 2010 um 2:28 pm

You really made me smell Provence's flavour this time! These days, I'm missing your birthplace almost as much as you do! And thanks for reminding me about stuffed vegetables, which are my favourite ones in summer!

Helen May 19, 2010 um 2:43 pm

Awww ball zucchini look so cute. I love the filling to this but can't use zucchini as my bf hates it! Might stuff it in some peppers though…

Rocky Mountain Woman May 19, 2010 um 2:48 pm

How cute! I'm jumping up and down in my head, oh dear, people are looking at me funny again, I guess I did kind of jump up and that wrong?

Susan May 19, 2010 um 3:02 pm

I really enjoyed reading about the food preparation differences between the regions in France. I hope that I can have a little bit of Provence after I make this receipe you shared. Thanks!!

veron May 19, 2010 um 3:02 pm

these look adorable! I like that they look like portly little men with hats. I'm not fond of zucchini but I love what you put in them!

Alisa May 19, 2010 um 3:44 pm

Those look so delicious! And your farmer's market sounds incredible … how I miss those ๐Ÿ™‚

Erica May 19, 2010 um 3:49 pm

Your blog is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything looks amazing. I am from Charleston (Mt. P) too! Adding you to my google reader ๐Ÿ™‚

Finla May 19, 2010 um 4:21 pm

I have filled the long ones, never made anythig with the rounds ones. Love the idea of stuffing them and looks so so yumm and beautifuL;

Cookin' Canuck May 19, 2010 um 4:26 pm

It sounds as though you have a wonderful farmer's market. How I wish we had one so prolific closer to my home. However, reading your post made me very grateful for the people and nature that I am surrounded by.

Barbara May 19, 2010 um 6:30 pm

Love Charleston. I come often to their home tours in the spring. Think I'm bringing a group next year because we have friends who have moved there and he is opening a restaurant.

And…these provencal-stuffed zucchini are tasty little guys. With their cute hats. I stuff mine vertically…much prefer your way, horizontal. And I'll try your filling next time; it looks delicious.

Almalu's Place May 19, 2010 um 9:28 pm

mmmm, they look so yummy!I want to try them!:)

Beth May 20, 2010 um 1:55 am

I live in Charleston, too–and so love getting up early for the Saturday market.
I cannot wait to try this recipe this weekend. (and I was also so pumped about the lard for pie crusts)
Thanks so much for posting this–perhaps we'll run into each other sometime.

Tara Barker May 20, 2010 um 3:29 am

I don't think I've ever seen eight ball zucchini – I may have to rethink my zucchini plantings this year!

You're making me want to come to Charleston – never realized it was similar to Provence! My ties to the southern parts of the US mean a trip to Charleston would be much easier to work out than a trip to France . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jodes May 20, 2010 um 4:58 am

Just ran across your blog. I love your photography! Can't wait to try these out =]

Jayne May 20, 2010 um 7:02 am

"I always marvel at people saying "could not eat a thing I was so sick". "

I was just thinking the same thing before I read your post. I was craving for noodles and chocolate and all sorts of foods when my friend asked me how I could have an appetite despite me being sick. My answer was, "Why not?"

I never not have appetite… except maybe when I feel nauseous but then, it almost never happens. Love those zucchini balls though I can't even find regular zucchinis here. I guess it's gotta be bell peppers them. ๐Ÿ™‚

emiglia May 20, 2010 um 7:45 am

That purple onion picture is out of this world!

Monica May 20, 2010 um 2:19 pm

I was wondering where I could find the link to Anita's site? I would love to look over her site too. Thanks for the lovely posts.

Helene May 20, 2010 um 2:43 pm

Monica: just click on her name with your mouse, I've hotlinked it to her site.

Thank you everyone!

The Cilantropist May 20, 2010 um 3:34 pm

Oh I have seen these mini zucchini at my local farmers market and what a wonderful idea for a recipe! Anything mini is too cute, and stuffed zucchini sounds delicious.

Couture Carrie May 20, 2010 um 4:05 pm

Found you through Chessa…

What exquisite photos!

Impressive cuisine blog!


Heidi Leon Monges May 20, 2010 um 6:15 pm

I can eat stuffed zucchinis (or whatever summer veg in hand you may have)every single day as well!.

First time I tried it was chez mes beaux parents (they are from the Provence region as well!!) and I feel in love with this dish. Is now a favorite dish at home, and a continued tradition from my husband's heritage.

Clemence Gossett May 20, 2010 um 8:56 pm

Oh, you make me so homesick! We used to stuff the tomatoes we'd get from our supplier in Apt. A lovely, stout mustached man whose stand was hidden away in an an alley, and his mushrooms I think of often. Merci Helen!

Jessica May 20, 2010 um 9:36 pm

Oh how delicious these look! Small enough almost to just pop in my mouth like candy! LOL

Thank you for the easy and delicious recipe!

[email protected]

ChichaJo May 21, 2010 um 4:46 am

They are adorable! And delicious to boot! I have a weak spot for cute vegetables (hence my love for brussels sprouts!) ๐Ÿ™‚

Ana Sofia May 21, 2010 um 2:37 pm

In NYC, the flowers and herbs are giving way to more fruits and vegetables so I'll keep an eye out for the 8-balls. Can't wait to try this!

Window On The Prairie May 21, 2010 um 9:02 pm

Never seen zucchini fixed this way. Your photos are beautiful.
Thank you for the post,

Les zamericains May 25, 2010 um 8:38 pm

I am so so glad I'm not the only one who doesn't want lavender in her herbes de Provences!!!! :))
I have been looking for little round zucchinis for a long time! They are so much easier to put stuffing in! Can I ask you where you found them!?

Helene May 25, 2010 um 8:57 pm

les zamericains: at our local farmers market.

Elisa June 13, 2010 um 1:49 pm

MY mouth is WATERING…they are so cute,those little round zucchinis..

Jenna June 15, 2010 um 5:16 am

I made these for dinner. *sigh* such deliciousness! I used lamb, couscous, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and parmesan to stuff. YUM!

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