Pomodori ripieni, rice stuffed tomatoes, are another summer classic in Italy, when the best sun ripened tomatoes are available and abundant; they are usually served cold, as an antipasto, but also warm as a tasty primo piatto or side dish.
For this recipe, choose the best ripe tomatoes not Roma of a medium-large size. Smaller size tomatoes can be used if served as antipasto or finger food, when the bite size is preferred.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):
- 4 medium-large tomatoes
- 3/4 cup of cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons of chopped mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon of capers, rinsed and well drained
- 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus 1 for the baking dish
- Wash the tomatoes, then slice off each top about a half inch, and set aside. These will be used as lids for the tomatoes once they are stuffed.
- With a teaspoon or a melon scoop, carefully scoop out and discard pulp and seeds, avoiding breaking or cutting through the tomato; this part is easier if done holding the tomato in the palm of your hand rather than over a flat surface.
- Sprinkle the inside of the tomato with salt and place upside down to allow any liquid to drain. Repeat with each tomato.
- Set the oven at 325 F. Brush the bottom of a shallow baking dish with a little olive oil.
- Combine the cooked rice with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped mushrooms, chopped parsley and basil, the minced garlic and the capers. Season with salt and pepper and actually taste the mix and make sure it IS well seasoned. There is nothing worse than a bland tasting stuffing.
- Spoon some of the mix in one of the tomatoes, pressing gently (to make sure they stay nice and packed while baking) but let the stuffing mound a bit above the edge of the tomato. Place on the baking dish, and repeat with each tomato.
- Place the tops over, brush with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place the dish in the center of the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
- Take the baking dish out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and serve warm or cold.