This Roman dish of rice-stuffed tomatoes on a bed of potato wedges will have you looking forward to good tomatoes all summer long. It was one of the first dishes I tried from Rachel Roddy's first cookbook, *My Kitchen in Rome* (also known as *Five Quarters*. These tomatoes are versatile—they make a meal in themselves, but can also serve as a side dish to simple grilled or roast meat.
A few tips: Go for ripe, yes, but more importantly tasty and FIRM tomatoes that will hold their shape well while baking. Rachel's original recipe calls for the double the potatoes; go with your appetite. Consider the addition of fresh parsley, oregano or mint. Only use a rice that you would use for cooking risotto—arborio, carnaroli, or Vialone Nano, for example. If you have very large tomatoes, add an extra spoonful or two of rice (Rachel calls for 10 tablespoons). —Emiko
firm, tasty round tomatoes
garlic cloves, finely chopped
basil leaves, torn (and/or mint, parsley or oregano)
(125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and reserve them for later. Scoop out the seeds, juice and flesh inside the tomatoes with a teaspoon and collect in a bowl. Blend this mixture then strain through a sieve to remove the seeds (alternatively, use a mouli or food mill to puree the tomato and remove the seeds).
Sprinkle the insides of the empty tomatoes with some salt and turn upside down over some kitchen paper to drain any excess liquid.
Add the garlic, basil, three-quarters of the olive oil and the rice to the tomato. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let this rice and tomato mixture sit at least 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 180° C/ 350° F.
Toss the potato wedges with the rest of the olive oil, sprinkle well with salt and place them at the bottom of a casserole dish or baking tray.
Fill each tomato until three-quarters full, put the tops of the tomatoes back on like a lid and nestle the tomatoes on top of the potatoes. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours or until the potatoes are golden and cooked through, the tomatoes are shriveled, and the rice is tender. Best when left to sit slightly (Rachel suggests half an hour) before serving, but these are also delicious cold.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.