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Tomato Kofte Traybake By Claire Thomson

“I made these koftes during a live cook-a-long session with Ulrika Johnson, home-cook champion (among many other wonderful things) and my muse at the other end of the camera. The session was a great deal of fun, both of us with a glass of wine in hand, the rain lashing here in Bristol and one or other of my children filming me at a barbecue while holding an umbrella (to no avail – I got soaked). Ulrika looked far cooler, effortlessly stylish, with her dog and youngest daughter as a company. I’m aware that sometimes I can cook at such speed (it’s the chef in me) that people will struggle to keep up. Ulrika kept pace and the night was a riot, albeit a virtual one, such as the ‘thing’ in the summer of 2020.“ Claire Thomson You can check out her new Recipe book ‘Tomato’.

Prep Time
Prep Time

Cooks In
Cooks In



Skill Level
Skill Level



  • 50g (1¾oz) coarse bulgur wheat
  • 16 Isle of Wight tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) minced (ground) lamb or beef
  • ½ onion, very finely diced
  • 30g (1oz) butter
  • 4 garlic cloves: 3 thinly sliced, 1 halved
  • 200g (7oz) passata or 200g (7oz) canned chopped tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the chopped salad:
  • ½–1 cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds removed
  • ½–1 large red or green (bell) pepper, deseeded and finely diced
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley or mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • To serve:
  • flat breads (such as pide or lavash, or pita)
  • 150g (5½oz) full-fat natural (plain) yogurt, seasoned with a good pinch of salt pickles
  • ½ lemon, cut into wedges
  • chilli flakes (preferably Aleppo or Urfa), for sprinkling
  • ground sumac, for sprinkling


  1. Tip the bulgur into a pan of salted water and place it over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool in the colander.
  2. Scoop out the flesh and seeds of the halved tomatoes, reserving them both, along with any juices, in a bowl. Season the cavities with salt and turn them cavity downward on a plate, to catch any juice.
  3. Tip the lamb or beef, the cooled bulgur, the diced onion, a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater and mix on high speed for about 2 minutes, until sticky and cohesive (Alternatively, you can do this by hand.) Put to one side.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate–low heat. Add the garlic and fry for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the passata or canned tomatoes and any juice from the scooped-out tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for at least 15–20 minutes, until thick and rich-tasting. Remove from the heat and put to one side to keep warm.
  5. Preheat the grill (broiler) to high and preheat the oven to 200°C
  6. Pour the tomato sauce into a round, 25cm (10in) baking dish (or something comparable in size).
  7. Divide and shape the meat mixture into 16 equal, ping-pong-sized balls. Nestle 1 ball into a scooped-out tomato half and top with another scooped out half, enveloping the ball. Repeat with the rest of the meatballs and tomato halves. Place each stuffed tomato snugly side by side in the baking dish.
  8. Grill (broil) the stuffed tomatoes under the hot grill for 3–5 minutes, until beginning to blister and blacken, then transfer them to the oven and bake for about 8–10 minutes to cook through – a little pink is fine for both lamb and beef, so do cook to your liking. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes or so.
  9. While the stuffed tomatoes are resting, combine the chopped salad ingredients, seasoning to taste.
  10. To serve, briefly heat the flat breads under a hot grill, then top with the stuffed tomatoes and chopped salad, along with the seasoned yogurt, pickles and lemon wedges, with chilli flakes and sumac to sprinkle.