Pomodori al Riso is a beloved Roman dish that is perfect for summer entertaining and as beautiful as it is delicious. Vivid red vine-ripened tomatoes are hollowed out and filled with rice marinated in the tomato's own juices, olive oil, garlic and herbs then baked until golden, tender and intensely flavorful. Tradition dictates that they rest after baking for hours to allow flavors to mingle before serving at room temperature. —Deborah Dal Fovo
medium, ripe yet FIRM, round red tomatoes each weighing 5 to 6 ounces, preferably with stem leaves attached (cluster tomatoes work well)
/200g Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice (about 2 tablespoons for each tomato)
/119ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing casserole and drizzling
large garlic clove, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
Grease a 9 x 12 oven-proof baking dish with olive oil.
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, cut a horizontal slice of about 3/8-inch off the stem top of each tomato to form a lid, leaving one side attached like a hinge if desired.
Working on one tomato at a time, use a serrated grapefruit spoon or small paring knife to cut around the inside perimeter of the tomato between the wall of flesh and inner pulp. Carefully scoop out the pulp, core, seeds and juice directly into a food mill set over a non-metallic bowl. Scrape out the tomato to create a hollow shell with thick wall of flesh on sides and bottom (about 3/8-inch), taking care not to pierce the flesh or skin while you work. Repeat the process with each tomato.
Sprinkle a bit of salt inside each tomato then turn them upside down on a cutting board to drain while you prepare the rice stuffing.
Puree the tomato pulp and juices through the food mill into bowl, discarding seeds and cores. If you don’t have a food mill, press the contents through a strainer with the back of a spoon into bowl or pulse contents in a food processor to liquify then strain to eliminate seeds and cores.
Add the raw rice, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and herbs to the tomato juice. Season with 1-tablespoon salt and freshly ground pepper then stir to combine and let stand for 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
Pat each tomato shell dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in the oiled baking dish. Fill the tomato shells about 7/8 full with rice stuffing then spoon over remaining tomato juices. Place lids back on the tomatoes, matching up if separated.
Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Wedge the potatoes in between and around the tomatoes to hold them snugly upright in the pan. Drizzle the tomatoes and potatoes liberally with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
Cover the baking dish with a sheet of foil and bake in the center of hot oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes, basting the tomatoes and rice with cooking juices every now and then.
The stuffed tomatoes are done when they are deeply bronzed with wrinkled lids, the rice is tender and moist, potatoes are soft inside yet crispy around the edges, and the cooking juices have thickened to a glaze-like consistency.
Remove from oven and let rest for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving warm or at room temperature.