The years when their garden was at its prime, Stefano’s parents grew more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. One of our favorite summertime tomato recipes is pomodori al riso, or rice-stuffed tomatoes, which we always make Roman-style, with pan-roasted potatoes. The rice absorbs the summery flavors of tomato, basil, and Italian parsley for a dish that is meant to be served on a patio with a glass of chilled wine.
Like so many recipes, there are variations to pomodori al riso. Some people add oregano, while others use mint, a staple in Roman cuisine. We use neither, but add some anchovy for a punch of flavor. If you are not a fan, feel free to omit it. Find big, ripe tomatoes and don’t worry about eating them right away – they are great served room temperature the next day, too.
- 4 large, ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 1 small bunch of basil
- 1 small bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 anchovies
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
- Wash the tomatoes.
- Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and set them aside.
- Remove the pulp of the tomatoes by cutting around the walls and scooping out the fruit with a spoon, taking care to not cut through the tomato walls.
- Preserve the pulp in a bowl and set the hollowed-out tomatoes upside down on paper towel.
- Dice the chunks or tomato pulp into small pieces or pass the pulp through a food mill.
- Mince the garlic, basil, parsley and anchovies and add them to the tomato juice and pulp.
- Add the rice to the tomato juice and pulp. Stir and let sit for 2-3 hours so the rice absorbs the juices.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees Celsius.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into small pieces.
- Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a baking pan.
- Add the potatoes to the pan, salt them, and drizzle a little more oil over them.
- Add the hollowed-out tomatoes to the baking pan.
- Spoon the rice mixture into each tomato until they are not quite full - leave about 1 cm. of space from the top of the tomato.
- Cover the tomatoes with their tops.
- Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover the pan and continue baking for 30 more minutes or until the tomatoes are browned on top and the potatoes are golden and crispy.
Pomodori al riso can be served warm or cooled to room-temperature.
If you find your rice is undercooked and a little crunchy, try parboiling it before adding it to your tomato pulp.