Stuffed Tomatoes: Pomodori Ripieni
At least twice every summer when I was growing up my mother would make an entire meal of stuffed vegetables: onion and pepper halves stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs, zucchini hollowed out and packed with a savory meat filling, and tomatoes brimming with rice.
I loved them all but for me the rice-stuffed tomatoes remain the quintessential summer comfort food: a one-dish meal that is satisfying but not too heavy, delicious straight out of the oven but just as welcomed the next day as cold leftovers.
My version, in which sliced potatoes form a scaffolding of sorts to hold the tomatoes in place as they bake, is based on a classic Roman preparation. Not all recipes call for cooking the rice in advance, but I prefer it so, as the twice-cooked rice is both tender (but not mushy) and richly flavored.
This dish serves six or more: six if it’s 2 per person (main course); 8 to 12 if it’s served as a side.
Heat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
Bring a medium saucepot of water to a rolling boil and salt it generously. Stir in the rice. Return the water to a boil, cover, and cook for 15 to 17 minutes, until the rice is al dente. Reduce the heat under the pot if necessary to prevent the water from boiling over. Drain the rice in a colander set in the sink and then transfer it to a bowl. Drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and stir to prevent the rice from sticking.
Coat the bottom and sides of a baking dish just large enough to fit the tomatoes and potatoes with olive oil.