Tomatoes stuffed with rice are one of the big Summer classics in Italy: every family has a recipe because they’re delicious and easy to make in tomato season, when there are gazillions of juicy, tasty tomatoes sold everywhere at a very good price. Yes, you need the oven, but you can bake them while doing something else very far from it and they can be eaten cold, which is a big bonus. 🙂
This is my Mum’s recipe (she made the ones I’ve photographed). She usually adds some cooked ham to the stuffing but we decided to make them in vegetarian version and they were amazing.
You can stuff them with any leftover cheese or meat you have in the fridge, and with the herbs of your choice. She added parsley, basil and lots of dried oregano for a burst of flavour. Her cheese of choice was Emmentaler, which she always has in her fridge, and I loved the flavour and texture of the end result.
You’re going to need a cheese with great personality and taste, not a delicate one like mozzarella, since it will complement the sweetness of the tomatoes and add a bit more oomph to their umami. Provolone, smoked scamorza or an aged pecorino are perfect too, but see what you have in your fridge and use what you like most.
This version does not include any garlic, but you can of course add some.
The quantity of rice might vary according to which type of rice you use. Any risotto rice will do, since round-grain rice – also called short-grain – is definitely the best choice for this type of dish.
To make sure the tomatoes don’t roll over while you bake them, cut a tiny slice off their bottom so that they stand steady. And don’t throw away their caps: they will help to keep the rice moist, cooking perfectly without getting dry. Since you stuff them with raw rice, this is pretty important.
Here we go, pomodori ripieni di mamma Gabriella! (after the photo)
Pomodori ripieni di riso
For about 6 medium-sized tomatoes
6 round medium-sized tomatoes
about 80 gr. of risotto rice
a handful of basil leaves
a few twigs of parsley
100 gr. cheese of choice (Provolone, Emmental or other)
1 big handful of grated Parmesan or Grana cheese
1 heaped teaspoon of dry oregano
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Dice the cheese.
Cut the caps off the tomatoes and keep them aside.
Remove the pulp from the tomatoes using a teaspoon or a melon baller.
Put the pulp in the blender together with basil and parsley leaves (no stalks!), a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Blend everything into a homogeneous mixture, the add rice and the two cheeses to it. Leave to rest for at least 10-15 minutes. The rice will already absorb some of the moisture, resulting in a more al dente texture.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little salt and fill them with the rice mixture.
Cover the tomatoes with their caps and place them in an oven dish lined with baking parchment.
Drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
Place the tomatoes in the preheated oven and bake until the filling is no longer wet and both rice and tomatoes are well cooked (about 30 minutes).
Serve lukewarm or cold.