These stuffed tomatoes are a great way to enjoy the glorious produce appearing in markets as the summer draws down. I really like that this dish allows tomatoes to shine in two ways: first, the tomato insides are used to create a delicious tomato sauce that the rices absorbs, and second, the tomato outsides serve as a textural contrast to the pleasantly-firm rice that they encase. Stuffing the tomatoes requires several steps, so if you’re not feeling energetic, you could use this technique to make just the rice. It is delicious even on its own!
To make the rice-stuffed tomatoes, get 6 medium-sized tomatoes or 3 really large tomatoes. I had three large tomatoes, but one was rotten, so I couldn’t use it 🙁 Also, your tomatoes shouldn’t be too ripe or else they won’t hold their shape in the oven. Cut the tops off of the tomatoes, and put the tops in a blender. Then, use a paring knife to cut the fibrous cores of the tomatoes out, and add the cores to the blender. Then, use a spoon to carefully scrape all of the seeds and loose tomato flesh out of the tomatoes and into the blender. Be careful that you don’t break through the tomato skins.
Puree the tomato insides in the blender until they are smooth. You should have approximately 1.5 cups of liquid.
Finely mince 1/2 of a small onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and garlic along with some red pepper flakes, and cook them until they have softened. Then, add 9 tablespoons of arborio rice to the skillet, and stir it around so that it absorbs the oil and toasts a little bit.
Then, pour 1/4 cup of white wine into the skillet, and stir the rice until the wine has mostly dried up. Pour over the tomato juice, and season it with 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring the juice to a light simmer, cover the skillet, and let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes have passed, the rice should have absorbed most of the liquid. If not, give it a little more time. Then, chop up 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano, and thyme), and stir them into the rice.
Preheat your oven to 350º F. Lightly grease a baking dish, and place the tomatoes inside. Spoon the rice into the tomatoes, leaving a little room at the top for the rice to expand as it continues cooking. Grate some parmesan cheese, and sprinkle it on top of the tomatoes. If you end up with a rotten tomato like I did and all of the rice doesn’t fit into the tomatoes, then you can put the extra rice in a ramekin to bake.
Bake the tomatoes for approximately 25 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and the rice is fully cooked. You can see that my heirloom tomato on the right was too ripe, and it basically disintegrated. It didn’t make for a pretty presentation, but it tasted exactly the same as the other tomato did. Top the tomatoes with more fresh herbs, and serve up. Be careful taking your first bites, because the tomatoes will be very hot! We really enjoyed this unique side dish, and I hope you do too!
This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- Tomatoes- 3 large or 6 medium
- Olive oil
- Onion- 1/2 of a small one
- Garlic- 2 cloves
- Red pepper flakes
- White wine- 1/4 cup
- Salt- 3/4 teaspoon
- Fresh herbs- 2 tablespoons+
- Parmesan cheese