Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

DSCN0027Pomodori al riso con le patate (roasted tomatoes stuffed with rice surrounded by delicious potatoes) are a dish that I have adored ever since I was little.  Ever since I can remember, every time we stopped for a quick lunch at one of the many tavole calde (buffet style restaurants) around Rome, I never once hesitated! When it comes to pomodori al riso, I am a very decisive person. For everything else…not so much.

The procedure to make these tomatoes is extremely simple.  At home, we’ve tried a number of times to make them from scratch, but I guess it just takes a bit of luck to get the potatoes cooked to perfection and the rice neither undercooked nor overcooked, but still with a slight crunch when you bite into it.  Keep in mind, you’re cooking it all in the same oven pan.  That’s the tricky part.

Growing up in New York, my mom, my aunt and my uncle lived in a gorgeous house right across the road from their high school.  And of course, my (Italian) grandma would always have a delicious home cooked Italian meal ready for her children and all of their friends when they got home.  Most popular kids on the block? I wonder why! You might be wondering why this has anything to do with the recipe at hand.  Well, my aunt is a fantastic cook; she took after her mother!  And since today she was over at the house, we thought we’d give these infamous tomatoes another go with her help.

DSCN0029Ingredients (makes 14 medium sized tomatoes)
14 Ripe tomatoes
20 Tbsp Rice (carnaroli or other risotto rice)
5/6 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
2 cloves Garlic
1 tbsp pesto
Basil
Potatoes on the side (at least 1 per tomato)

METHOD
Start by washing the tomatoes.  Cut off the top and empty out the tomatoes into a bowl.  Place the empty tomatoes (with their tops) in the oven pan that you will be using.

On the side, blend the tomato pulp and add oil, garlic, salt, basil and pesto.  Keep one cup of this mixture aside (which you will be using with the potatoes at the end).  Add rice to the mixture.

Move back to your empty tomatoes.  Sprinkle some salt in the tomatoes for extra flavor.  Fill the tomatoes with the rice mixture.  Replace tomato lids.

Dice the potatoes into 2cm cubes (that way, 1 hr cooking time will suffice).  Pour the mixture which you set aside earlier over the potatoes, stir in and add some salt.  Add the potatoes to the oven pan with the tomatoes.

Sprinkle some more salt over the top of the tomatoes and drizzle some oil all over.

Bake for at least 1 hr at 225˚C.  The potatoes and the top of the tomatoes should be browned.  See picture for final result.

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