One of my favorite summer appetizers, though I could make it at any time:
Rice Stuffed Tomatoes
- 4 large tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 tbsp extra virgin oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling
- salt and pepper
- Cut a slice of the stalk end of each tomato and set aside to use as lids. Scoop the pulp out of the tomatoes and chop.
- Transfer to a large bowl, carefully so as to minimize any loss of tomato juices; add the garlic, rice and basil. Season with salt and pepper and stir in 1 tbsp of the oil. Cover and let stand – at room temperature – for one hour, for the rice to absorb the juices.
- Stuff the tomatoes with the rice mixture and transfer to an oiled baking pan. Top each tomato with the reserved lids and drizzle with remaining oil. Bake in a preheated 350 F. oven for 35 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the rice is cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If available (usually in gourmet fruit and vegetable stores, use Brandywine tomatoes which have a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, for more sweetness use Spanish Montserrat tomatoes which have low acidity, but any large tomato will do. Arborio rice kernels are high in starch, shorter and fatter than any other short grown rice. They are great for risotto because the extra starch lends the dish a perfect creamy texture.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy