Pomodori con Riso (rice-stuffed baked tomatoes) are so simple I make them at home well before I plan to serve them. But in Rome, you’re just as likely to see great trays of them in the windows of a bakery or a rosticceria where they’re baked in the bread oven until the rice gets tender and the tomatoes just begin to slump.
- 8 firm, ripe medium tomatoes
- kosher salt (as needed)
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)
- ¼ cup cup chopped shallots
- 2 clove garlic (peeled nad chopped)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided), plus more for drizzling
- freshly cracked black pepper (for seasoning)
- ½ cup arborio rice
- 1 pound russet poatoes (peeled and cut into ¾'' chunks
Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and reserve them for later. Trim about ¾” from stem-end of each one and set ends aside. Working over a medium bowl, use a small spoon or melon baller to carefully scoop out inner pulp without puncturing the walls of the tomatoes. Sprinkle the insides of the empty tomatoes with some salt and turn upside down on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Meanwhile, add the fresh basil, shallots, garlic, and ½ cup olive oil to the tomato flesh and season with salt and black pepper. Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the mixture. Add the rice, stir well and set aside for at least 45 minutes so that the rice can absorb the flavorful liquid.
Position oven rack in the top third of oven, then preheat oven to 350°.
Toss the potato chunks with the remaining ¼-cup olive oil, sprinkle with salt and arrange them along the bottom of a shallow casserole dish or baking tray large enough to fit all the tomatoes.
Scoop a generous ¼-cup of the saucy rice filling into the hollowed out tomatoes (there may be a little filling left over), and place a reserved tomato end on top of each stuffed tomato as a cap then nestle the tomatoes on top of the potatoes. Drizzle a little oil over tomatoes, and bake until the rice is tender and the tomatoes are wrinkled and beginning to brown but still holding their shape, about one hour and fifteen minutes. Begin checking on the tomatoes after 30 minutes, adding a splash of water only if needed to keep the bottom from burning.
Remove from oven, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Serve with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil at room temperature or, on a hot day, chilled.