Pomodori al riso
During the years when their garden was at its prime, Stefano’s parents grew more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. One of our favorite summertime recipes is pomodori al riso, or rice-stuffed tomatoes, which we always make with pan-roasted potatoes. The rice absorbs the summery flavors of tomato, basil, and Italian parsley for a dish that is meant to be served on a patio with a glass of chilled wine.
We had the pleasure of enjoying them with our friends Riccardo, Monica, their daughter Veronica and Riccardo’s mother Venisa, who is visiting from Italy and whose valuable advice has made this recipe even better. The culinary knowledge of mothers and grandmothers of Italy is true treasure.
4 large, ripe but still firm tomatoes
1/2 c. Arborio rice
1 small bunch basil
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
4 anchovies (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 medium potatoes
With a sharp knife, slice the tops off of the tomatoes and set the tops aside. Carefully remove the pulp of the tomato by cutting through the walls, and scooping out the fruit with a spoon. Set the hollowed tomatoes aside.
Preserve the pulp and juices from each tomato. Dice the solid parts into small pieces, and place it all into a bowl. Finely chop the basil and parsley, and add it to the tomatoes. Cut the garlic and the anchovies into small pieces, and them to the tomato mixture. Add the rice, along with two liberal dashes of salt. Stir, and let marinate for 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Peel the potatoes, cut them into uniformly sized small pieces, and distribute them evenly at the bottom of a medium baking pan. Salt and pepper the potatoes well, drizzle olive oil over them, and stir.
Retrieve your hollowed tomatoes and lids. Fill each tomato approximately 3/4 full with the rice-tomato mixture. Do not over-fill, or the rice will be too dry. Spoon all of the remaining liquid into the tomatoes. Place the lids back on the tomatoes, and bake for approximately 1 hour. Periodically stir the potatoes and check the firmness of the cooking rice. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.
We paired the pomodori al riso with a 2009 Dolcetto d’Alba di la Morra produced by Ascheri. The Dolcetto grape is common to the Piedmont wine region, and Dolcetto from the Alba area is generally considered superior to other Dolcetto wines. With its fruit and floral character and its mild acidity and tannins, it is a lighter dry red wine which can be served chilled.