Pomodori con Riso (Italian Rice Stuffed Tomatoes) is a classic Italian dish, more specifically from Rome. It is a tasty, vegan dish just as good eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature. The rice cooks inside the tomatoes and the potatoes are on the side, getting billowy delicious from the juices of the tomatoes.
Song of the day: Zero - Imagine Dragons.
Pomodori con Riso, a taste of home
I needed bright colors, fresh flavors, familiar smells, the comfort of home. The kiss of the sunshine rays on my skin. A recipe like this Pomodori con Riso (Italian Rice Stuffed Tomatoes) is a lingering of the Italian summer in my mouth. It is the flavor of my memories, but it is also the scent of basil, garlic, parsley, and oregano, combined with the aroma of sweet tomatoes.
My mother's recipe
This is my mother's recipe. One she's been making for decades, during Summer/beginning of Fall, when the tomatoes are gorgeously ripe, big, and sweet. When you can't imagine a better meal than having oven-baked rice stuffed tomatoes, with a side of potatoes. For lunch or supper, warm or cold, at home, or in one of the many places they sell it already cooked, it does not alter the fact that it is incredibly amazing. She usually removes the center stem of the top of the tomatoes and places a chunk of cheese in the middle. It melts beautifully and is a pleasure to eat.
It is an easy dish with a few but very specific ingredients
- Tomatoes: In Rome, the type of tomatoes you use to make this dish is called "pomodori da riso", that means "rice tomatoes", as if their only purpose is to be stuffed with rice and oven baked. They are fairly big and round, ripe but not too ripe, firm, plump, not too seedy, and sweet. Since I am not in Rome, but in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I used the ones that seemed closer to what I would find there: Beefsteak tomatoes.
- Rice: also the rice has to be the right one. Since it cooks inside the tomatoes, you need one that is going to cook just right, not overcooked, not too al dente. Arborio is the most frequent choice, I used Originario. Both can be found at your local Italian store. The ratio is 1 tablespoon of rice per tomato. One important step not to be skipped: the rice has to soak in the tomato/herb pulp for 1-2 hours to absorb all the flavors and plump up.
- Potatoes: you will always see potatoes surrounding rice stuffed tomatoes. They have a double function, they soak the juices from the tomatoes, and in doing that they become the best side dish ever. Billowy, flavorful, soft yet having some crispy edges, they also give you an indication of when your tomatoes are ready. When they're ready, usually the tomatoes are too. Yellow potatoes are the best. We used our homegrown red potatoes, although their white flesh was a little too soft and starchy.
- Herbs: basil, oregano, parsley, mingle with minced garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. They create a tasty backdrop for the tomato pulp and a wonderful environment for the rice to cook.
Follow the steps in the recipe and within a few hours, you can enjoy a taste of Rome. When in season, you can find this dish everywhere, it is so popular that it can steal the show to the iconic Pasta Cacio e Pepe and Carbonara.
When ready, you see the tomatoes cracked, wrinkled, and caramelized. The rice has absorbed all those flavorful juices and is perfectly cooked, with just a slight bite to it. The potato aroma is heavenly, it makes you want to just dive right in and eat your way out. Each bite has a beautiful array of texture, keeping each mouthful delightful and delicious.
Give these Pomodori con Riso (Italian Rice Stuffed Tomatoes) a try, I'm sure you'll become a big fan, too!
Update, Summer 2021 - I make them every year, multiple times during Summer. In Canada, the tomatoes I use are called beefsteak tomatoes. For potatoes, I used yellow flesh. I made them like my mom, removing the center stem with a pointed knife and placing a piece of cheese in the middle. Also, I amped the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C) and cooked them for about 50 minutes. They are always a feast!
4 big, round, tomatoes (I used beefsteak tomatoes)
- 4 Tbsp rice (Riso Arborio or Originario)
1 garlic clove, minced
a few leaves of fresh basil, minced
a good pinch of dry oregano
- a few parsley leaves, fresh or frozen, minced
4 tablespoon e.v.o. oil, divided
salt & pepper to taste
- Wash and dry the tomatoes, then with a sharp knife, cut the tops off and set aside. You will use them to cover the tomatoes before placing in the oven.
- Over a bowl with a small knife and a spoon, carefully remove the pulp inside the tomatoes, paying attention not to poke a hole in the tomatoes. Remove any parts of the core that are hard. Put the tomatoes upside down on a plate, so that they can lose any excess of water. Mince the pulp, or blend it in a food processor.
- Add the rice to the pulp. Season with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, parsley, and basil. Mix everything well. Leave it in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, to macerate for 1-2 hours, so that the rice can absorb the juices well.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C) and peel the potatoes. Cut them in wedges, place them into a baking dish and season with 2 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Season the inside of each tomato with a pinch of salt, then fill with the rice mixture, without overfilling. Season the inside of the top of the tomatoes, and place on top.
- Place the stuffed tomatoes in the baking dish surrounded by the potatoes. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over everything.
- Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check every now and then to see how the rice is cooking, basting the inside of the tomatoes with the juices that are the bottom, and turning the potatoes if you see they are sticking at the bottom.
- Turn off the oven and leave in oven for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Even cold they are great.
Every oven is different, as are the tomatoes and the rice you are using, so your rice stuffed tomatoes may take less or longer to bake. Check them after 45 minutes, turning the potatoes and basting the tomatoes with the juices that are forming in the pan.
The rice is supposed to have a bite, stay "al dente", and the potatoes are billowy and flavorful from the juices.
The prep time includes the 2 hours the rice soaks in the tomato pulp in the fridge.
Better to use a smaller baking dish, where the tomatoes and potatoes can sit closer together.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days and reheated before serving.
- Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Main, Vegan/Vegetarian
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: tomatoes, rome, italian, baked, vegan, main, stuffed, rice, gluten-free, herbs
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.