Transport yourself to Italy with these Mediterranean flavors!
It’s hard to beat a summer tomato. They’re plump and juicy, filled with sweet and savory notes that make your palate sing. You can certainly eat tomatoes in the wintertime, but this is one of those vegetables that showcases its best aromas and flavors in the summertime. That’s why you’ll find Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice in almost every household and restaurant in Italy during the summer months. It’s a healthy, filling dish which you can pair with fish or meat. Or, enjoy it as-is if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. The dish itself contains plant-based ingredients, so it’s perfect for those who want to enjoy a meatless meal.
You may have been tipped off by the Italy reference, but we filled these Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice with our favorite Mediterranean ingredients. Many are familiar with the Mediterranean diet for weight-loss purposes, but this type of cuisine is very typical in Italy. Ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, and capers paired with herbs and spices (like basil, oregano, and parsley) are especially common in the southern and central parts of Italy.
A Few Tips and Tricks
The best tomatoes to use are the big, round and plump ones. You could use an oval-shaped tomato like a Roma, but we recommend looking for the largest heirloom variety you can find. This is the perfect opportunity to browse the stalls at a farmer’s market! If you don’t have a market nearby, you should be able to find a great tomato at the local grocery store. Take the time to place the tomato on the scale, because the ideal choice for this Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice dish weighs about 7 ounces or more each.
Next up, let’s talk about cooking the rice. This isn’t your normal rice-and-beans type of rice. We like to use arborio, which is most typically used for risotto. The grains are larger, so they can absorb more liquid. That means they’ll become plumper when cooked, making them the perfect stuffing for our hollowed out tomatoes.
When you cook this type of rice with tomato juice and herbs like oregano, basil, and parsley, the rice pulls in all the savory flavors of the juice and the herbs aromatize the rice. The result is absolutely breathtaking! You’ll end up with super creamy rice that gives the baked tomatoes an unbelievable richness of tastes and scents.
Get Ready to Enjoy!
From there, the rest is easy! Just stuff the rice into the hollowed-out tomatoes and bake them to perfection. You’ll swear that the end result almost tastes cheesy, thanks to the creaminess of the rice. But, since this recipe contains clean-eating ingredients and very few added fats, this Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice dish is super healthy and works for a variety of low-carb and low-calorie diets.
If you’re looking to pair this dish with wine, you’ll need a dry white wine with a good gusto. Ask for a wine with an olfactory persistence that can go well with the mixture of aromatic herbs. Italian wines are always a good choice! Pigato, an Italian white grape mostly grown along the sea of Liguria, can be paired very well with this dish. You might find it under the name Vermentino. There’s also Fiano di Avellino which will pair well, but you can also choose Sauvignon Blanc as a more common alternative.
Baked Tomatoes Stuffed With Rice
- 4 tomatoes large, plump (each weighing an average of 7 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup arborio rice uncooked
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons parsley fresh, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons basil fresh, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Slice off the top part of the tomatoes then set aside.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp, seeds, and juice then set aside them aside. Sprinkle the inside part of the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Using an immersion blender, grind the pulp, seeds, and juice together until it becomes smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small pot, combine the rice, oregano, parsley, basil, garlic, capers, 2 cups of tomato juice, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and the remaining salt. Cook on low - medium fire for 10 minutes. Avoid letting it dry up by adding the remaining 1/2 cup of tomato juice if needed. When cooked, the result should be very creamy, almost liquid.
- Fill up the tomatoes with the rice mixture then cover with the top part of the tomatoes.
- Transfer them to an oiled baking pan or with a baking sheet then drizzle them with the remaining extra virgin olive oil.
- Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Serve when warm.
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