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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pomododri al Riso (Tomatoes Baked with Rice)

Please welcome my guest, Patricia Winton. Patricia writes about two of Italy's great works of art: food and crime. Her story "Feeding Frenzy" features protagonist Caroline Woodlock, an American journalist covering the culinary scene in Italy, and Nino Nardo, professor of Italian culinary history and traditions at Rome's 750-year-old university. It appears in Fish Tales, The Guppy Anthology. Patricia has lived in Italy for twelve years, the past nine in Rome. She's a former newspaper food columnist and cooking teacher. She blogs every Wednesday at

When I first came to live in Rome, a woman in my English class had burned her hand taking the dish from the oven the previous night when she was preparing it for a function at her child’s school. I didn’t know the dish, and she wrote it out for me. It a perfect pot luck dish because it’s easy to prepare, travels well, and is best at room temperature.
The recipe given to me was very imprecise, as many Italian recipes are, and I’ve tried to standardize it. The original recipe called for a “fist full of rice” for each tomato.

Serves 6-8

12 round, firm medium sized tomatoes
½ cups long grained rice
1 small onion, grated
3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for the basic preparation, plus more for drizzling
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
salt to taste
12 basil leaves

Cut the tops off of each tomato and set aside. Using a small grapefruit spoon or melon scooper, carefully scoop the flesh out of each tomato into a large bowl. Try not to break through the outer skin.
Set the tomatoes and lids aside, upside down, on paper towels to drain.

Add raw rice to the tomato flesh and juice. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and chopped onion. Stir to mix well and let sit for about an hour or so to let the rice absorb some of the liquid.

Sprinkle a bit of salt into each tomato, and place one basil leaf at the bottom of each one. Spoon the rice mixture into each tomato and replace the stemmed cap on each one.  
Oil a baking dish just large enough to hold the tomatoes without falling over. Fit the tomatoes in the dish. Put the potato wedges here and there around the tomatoes to help keep them upright.

Drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 40 minutes. Check the tomatoes from time to time to make sure they do not overcook. If desired, baste the tomatoes with the liquid that collects in the bottom of the pan.

When done, allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature before serving. The dish can be made one day ahead and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.


  1. Perfect! I bought some lovely tomatoes this weekend, and I have the other things. It sounds reasonably easy and very good. I'll try it tonight. Do you use a particular kind of rice?

  2. Ellis, hope you enjoy it. Aborio is the most common you find here, but you can use other kinds. I'd say just use what you have. This is supposed to be an easy recipe.