Pomodori Ripieni | Stuffed Tomatoes

Most Tuesdays, my friend Tori Ritchie, a veteran cookbook author and food writer, emails a recipe to subscribers. I’ve been one for years and I always enjoy seeing her Tuesday Recipe emails in my inbox (the same cannot be said for all the emails in my inbox).

The recipes Tori shares are usually simple and always appetizing. Often they are Italian (she is an Italophile and has spent a fair bit of time in Italy). They make me want to go right to the kitchen and start cooking.

Especially last week’s recipe: tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs. This one took me right back to summers at the beach in Italy, when my mom would make stuffed vegetables for pranzo (lunch) or dinner. She used a mix of summer vegetables (zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes) and a variety of fillings (bread, meat, rice), but she almost always stuffed the tomatoes with rice. The tomatoes and the zucchini were my favorites on the stuffed veg platter.

What makes stuffed tomatoes so good is that as they roast in the oven, their flavor intensifies, and the rice packed inside their cavities absorbs all those rich tomato juices. Tori’s recipe takes the dish one step further; the tomatoes rest on a bed of sliced potatoes, with more tucked in between. Like the rice, the potatoes soak up those wonderful tomato juices.

Tori’s recipe starts with raw rice, which cooks inside the tomatoes as they roast. I happened to have some cooked rice on hand so I used that. I thought the rice might end up overcooked but it turned out fine, not mushy at all, possibly because of the dry oven heat. In fact, some of the rice spilled out of the tomatoes and developed a nice crunch. Either way, this is an excellent late-summer dish. You can serve it as a side to, say, roast or grilled chicken. Or you can make the tomatoes the star of the show and serve them with mozzarella, fried zucchini, or sautéed peppers, or even a simple salad.

Makes 6 or more servings

Pomodori Ripieni | Stuffed Tomatoes

Rice-stuffed tomatoes are a classic summer dish in Italy. You can use either Arborio (risotto) rice or plain long-grain rice. I haven't tried it, but I'm sure wild rice would also be delicious, if not "authentic." This recipe is adapted from Tori Ritchie of Tuesday Recipe.

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 12 ripe round medium tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked Arborio or long-grain rice (I used long-grain; see NOTE)
  • 1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the bottom and sides of a baking dish just large enough to fit the tomatoes with olive oil.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Boil the potatoes until barely cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes (test with a knife). Drain and let cool.

Slice the top off each tomato to create a lid. Set a colander over a bowl and scoop out the insides of the tomatoes, leaving a wall about 1/4 inch thick. I use a melon baller but a spoon or small knife will also work; just be sure not to pierce through the tomato. Set the tomatoes aside; press the pulp and seeds to extract as much tomato juice as possible into the bowl. Discard the solids that remain in the colander.

In a bowl, combine the cooked rice with the juices from the tomatoes. Stir in the mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses, along with the parsley, basil, and oregano. Season with a little salt and pepper. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and mix everything together well. Peel the cooled potatoes and slice about 1/4 inch thick.

Arrange a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish without overlapping. Set the hollowed-out tomatoes on top of the potatoes. Spoon the rice mixture into each tomato, filling to the top without overstuffing (see NOTE for what to do with any leftover rice). Set each lid on top of its tomato. Snuggle the remaining potatoes around the tomatoes and around the edge of the baking dish; the whole thing should be tightly packed. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary over the tomatoes and potatoes and season with a little more salt. Drizzle everything well with olive oil.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes; uncover and continue to bake until the tomatoes are nicely roasted and browned on top, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool until warm or at room temperature. Scatter a few basil leaves over the top and serve. (Leftovers are delicious straight from the fridge.)

NOTE
To cook rice: Bring 3 cups broth or salted water to a boil and pour in 1 1/2 cups Arborio or long-grain rice. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer until rice is just tender and liquid is absorbed, 17 to 20 minutes. Pour the rice into a bowl to cool a bit before proceeding with recipe.

If there is rice mixture left over after stuffing the tomatoes, put it in an oiled baking dish just large enough to hold it, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes alongside the tomatoes; uncover and bake 15 minutes more, until heated through and lightly browned on top.

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21 Responses to Pomodori Ripieni | Stuffed Tomatoes

  1. Paula - bell'alimento August 12, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Tomato perfection! Gorgeous. Pinned.

  2. lizthechef August 12, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    I wonder if I could make these using quinoa? I’m trying to watch my carbs. Looks fabulous!

    • Domenica Marchetti August 12, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

      Hi Liz! I have only cooked quinoa once, for a salad, so I couldn’t say for sure. My guess is that it could work, though you might want to take a look at Marisa’s comment below. As with most experiments, I say give it a try and see how it works.

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way August 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    I love anything ripieni. And I do agree that stuffing tomatoes with summer squash is delicious. This recipe came just at the right time. Last week I made stuffed tomatoes with quinoa. It turned out “beh” . Not bloggable at all. The quinoa just didn’t have enough sticky factor and even though I seasoned it with mushrooms and onions and Parmesan cheese. It didn’t do anything for us. So back to the drawing board. This looks perfect! Thank you so much for sharing and introducing me to Tori — anyone who loves my homeland is certainly a friend of mine. Grazie e buona giornata.

    • Domenica Marchetti August 12, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks for weighing in on the quinoa matter, Marisa. I have only made one quinoa dish so I happily defer. Wonder if there is some way to get it to be a little more ‘sticky’. Maybe more cheese?!

  4. Rosa Jeanne Mayland August 12, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Simply perfect!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. prouditaliancook August 13, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    The juice of the tomatoes along with the cheese and herbs sound like the perfect match to me. Don’t laugh but I bet this would work with some cauliflower rice also, adding a little more cheese to make it stick. I get on my low carb kick every now and then, so I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration while I drink my coffee this morning!

    • Domenica Marchetti August 14, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Marie, I love cauliflower and I think your idea is excellent. Go for it, and let me know how it turns out.

  6. jamielifesafeast August 13, 2015 at 9:07 am #

    I love this Italian version of the simple French dish my mother-in-law and husband made/make. Much more flavorful with the cheeses! I am a bit curious about the addition of potatoes… is this traditional with a rice dish?

    • Domenica Marchetti August 14, 2015 at 8:59 am #

      Good question. This is the first time I’ve seen it as well in this particular dish, though Italians do have a habit of sometimes mixing carbs with carbs. Pasta e patate (pasta with potatoes) is a classic Neapolitan dish (which I love). And I must say, the potatoes in this tomato dish were so good because they soaked up all that flavor.

  7. Chiara August 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    un delizioso piatto unico, buonissimo anche il giorno dopo ! Buona serata Domenica, un abbraccio !

    • Domenica Marchetti August 14, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      Si, hai ragione Chiara ~ buonissimo il giorno dopo. Un abbraccio anche a te!

  8. paninigirl August 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    I have so many tomatoes sitting on my counter waiting to be put to use. Now I know what I’ll be making! I also have your tomato jam on my list.

    • Domenica Marchetti August 14, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Yes, make the tomato jam Janie. You will love it. It’s time I made my annual batch, too. It is so good on sandwiches, among other things.

  9. ciaochowlinda August 14, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    I too, have a surfeit of tomatoes and want to try this one Domenica. It always brings back memories of Clo Treves, who was also a friend of your mom’s. Clo always made these classic Roman tomatoes every summer. By the way, I have made these with quinoa and really liked them. I posted about them here: http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com/2014/09/baked-tomatoes-stuffed-with-quinoa.html

  10. Frank Fariello August 15, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    One of my favorite summer dishes! Personally, I always pre-cook the rice a bit even if many recipes don’t call for it.

  11. Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 29, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    I love stuffed tomatoes, these look fabulous!

  12. amelia from z tasty life September 2, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    how small is this cooking world? I love Tori. And I adore your focus on vegetables. This is a great summer all-in-one meal. I agree with Frank: pre-cooking the rice is the way to go!

  13. sippitysup September 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    This is so well timed. The tomatoes in my Farmers Market have gotten so cheap I bought waaaaay too many this week. GREG

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