Risotto Pomodorini Ripeni
Stuffed vegetables of any description can be delicious, whether they are stuffed with pasta, chopped vegetables, breadcrumbs, or rice as in this recipe. You often see vegetables like this in Italy on antipasti tables as they can be prepared a head of time, keep well at room temperature, and are delicious hours after they have been assembled and baked. This recipe works well as a first course but these tomatoes would also be lovely at lunch alongside a mixed green salad, or you could use smaller tomatoes and serve them on a mixed antipasti platter. Choose nice firm, but very ripe tomatoes for the best results.
4 Large Ripe Tomatoes
1/3 Cup Arborio Rice
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil or Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use a sharp knife and remove any stalk still on the tomato, leaving the stem end intact. Cut off the top of the tomato at the stem end, about 1/5 of the way down, and set the “tomato lids” aside for now. Use a sharp spoon and scoop out the pulp from the interior of the tomato leaving the outer shells intact. Push the pulp just removed, along with the seeds and juice through a strainer or a sieve. Precook the rice by boiling it in salted water until it is 3/4 of the way cooked, about 8 minutes.( It should still be quite chewy), then drain.
In a frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about another minute or two. Add the strained tomato pulp and juices, the drained rice, saffron threads, chopped basil or parsley and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Place the tomato shells into a baking dish large enough to hold them snuggly and spoon the filling equally into each filling the shell but not over stuffing. Place the lids on top of each tomato, and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are wrinkled and soft. Serve warm or at room temperature.