Baking pasta and rice inside summer vegetables is a very Italian summer occupation. Despite the heat generated by the oven, it is common to bake and serve “pomodori al riso” in the summer mainly because this is the season when heirloom tomatoes are abundant and delicious. After having pureed tomatoes into canned pommarola, made countless caprese salads and tossed them in panzanella, pomodori al riso are the obvious choice. This recipe is also perfect for the beach picnic many Italians embark on during this time of year.
So with no further ado, here is my mother’s failsafe recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes
- 8 large heirloom tomatoes
- 150 gr (7/8 cup) Arborio rice
- bunch of fresh basil
- pinch of dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 large potatos, peeled and cut into wedges
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven at 200° C (390° F)
Cut off the stalks at the top end of the tomatoes without discarding, you’ll need them later as lids.
Spoon out the pulp and seeds and save. Place the empty tomatoes in a greased pan, cavity up, and season each with a pinch of salt.
In a mixing bowl, add a fistful of rice per each tomato, minced garlic, oregano and coarsley torn basil leaves. Dress with olive oil, season with a dash of freshly ground black pepper, and mix thoroughly.
Put the tomato pulp through a food mill and fold half of it in the rice mix. Fill the scooped out tomato shells to the brim with the dressed rice and top with the saved stalks.
Now pour over them the remaining tomato sauce and a thread more olive oil.
Scatter the potato wedges in the spaces around the tomatoes, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the rice is no longer al dente, but soft.
Uncover and finish until the potatoes are crispy on the edges, not more than 5 minutes.
Did you chill enough wine for lunch?
Images courtesy of Eleonora Baldwin and GialloZafferano
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.