Guys, we should definitely, definitely talk about these. Here, I’ll go first: I think it’s essential that you not let another tomato season pass without making them. I realize that you might imagine rice-stuffed tomatoes to be something unappealing. Maybe you had a cold, stomach-turning one at a buffet wedding too many years ago that its squidgy horror should still be fresh in your mind, and yet. Maybe you cannot imagine why anyone would consider rice stuffed inside a tomato to be something noteworthy, being just rice and tomatoes, possibly two of the most generic foods out there. Maybe you’re waiting to hear what I dolled these up with to make them interesting — was there bacon or cheese or caramelized onions? Did I amp it up with whole grains or kale? Maybe I cooked an egg inside, like that one time? And maybe you’re going to be disappointed when I tell you that I added nothing, just about nothing at all, and that’s the best thing about them.
For a quicker version, use cooked rice instead — leaving out the 3/4 cup olive oil from the mixture — and set the tomatoes in the pan without any potatoes or leftover rice. Then, just drizzle them with a little olive oil and cook for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
(Makes 10 servings)
- 10 large tomatoes
- 3/4 cup un-cooked short grain rice
- 2 zucchini, peeled and grated
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons dry mint
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley (or 4 teaspoons dried)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice the tops off the tomatoes (keep the tops, though) and use a spoon to empty out the middle of the tomato. Reserve the juice in one bowl and insides of the tomato in a separate bowl. Make small slits in the inside bottom of the tomatoes – making sure not to cut all the way through the tomatoes.
- Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish and place the tomatoes inside the pan.
Put the onion, garlic, a teaspoon of oil, and a pinch of salt into a food processor and mix it just a bit. (Or, simply mix in a bowl with a spoon if you don’t have a food processor – just chop the onions and garlic a little more finely).
- Take the insides of the tomato and chop them into small pieces, and then add them to a large bowl with the grated zucchini. Then, add 1 tablespoon of salt, the dry mint, parsley, and tomato paste and combine. Finally, add the uncooked short-grain rice, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 3/4 cup olive oil and let the mixture sit.
- In the meantime, peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Toss them with the tablespoon of oregano, 3/4 cup olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Mix them well and then add the reserved tomato juice.
- Fill the tomatoes to the top with the rice mixture and top them with their caps. Then, place the potatoes/tomato juice in the empty space around the tomatoes – also add any leftover rice mixture in the gaps, too.
- Add a cup of water to the corner of the pan and tilt it so that the water is evenly distributed.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees F, and then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake them for another 60-90 minutes. If it seems dry during the process, add a little more water to the pan.
Recipe adapted from 12 tomatoes