Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

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This meal takes me back to Mimizan-Plage in 1977, the first time our family had eaten anything so deliciously foreign.
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6 peppers or big tomatoes or both

1 large onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots, grated

1 courgette, in small cubes

500g good quality sausagemeat

1 tin tomatoes

handfuls fresh herbs (parsley and mint are essential, thyme is nice too, if you have it)

half a teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons dried basil

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Gently fry the onion in some olive oil with half of the garlic, the carrot and courgette until it all starts to soften.

2.  Add the sausagemeat and keep stirring and breaking up with the wooden spoon.  After about 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, paprika and dried herbs.  Half fill the tomato can with water and pour into the frying pan too.  Put the lid on the pan and simmer for about half an hour.

3. Meanwhile slice off the tops of the peppers and tomatoes and keep them until later.  Discard the inside of the peppers, but keep the tomato pulp, chop it up and add to the simmering mixture.

4.  Finely chop the fresh herbs with the remaining garlic and stir into the sausagemeat mixture.  Add a little salt and pepper to the mixture.

5.  Place the peppers and tomatoes in a large, heavy lidded casserole and fill them with the stuffing.  Put the tops on the tomatoes and peppers and pour any leftover stuffing around the outside.  Drizzle the tops with olive oil.  Add some fresh thyme.

6.  Put the lid on and cook at 160 degrees for about an hour.  Serve hot, but not straight out of the oven, with plain rice and bread.

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