I couldn’t imagine Italy’s cuisine without the tomato. But in the 15th and 16th centuries, the tomato was considered poisonous! Later on, the Spaniards showed the Italians how to pan-fry the tomato with onions and eggplant in what we know today as ratatouille. The Italians soon learned that the ‘golden fruit’ was perfect for flavouring food. Spices back then were very expensive and not readily available. This dish is rustic and one could envision Nonna using every part of the tomato to come up with this recipe. Being frugal wasn’t a choice it was a necessity for most Italians before the 1960s. And meat was served only on special occasions if you could afford it. Nothing was wasted. If you like this tomato recipe, then you might want to try this one.
you will need
2 tablespoons rice per tomato
large handful of basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Slice the top off of the tomato and set aside. Scoop out the pulp along with any juice into a jar. Add the basil, garlic, olive oil and oregano. Using a hand blender blend until a sauce is made. Add the rice (I used basmati) and stir. Let this tomato mixture rest for around 30 minutes or until you see the rice starting to plump up. Add the cheese to the mixture and stir. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grab a baking dish large enough to accommodate the tomatoes. Add a splash of olive oil and place potato slices on the bottom. Next, take the rice mixture and spoon into tomato shells. Place the tomato lid on top. Place the filled tomatoes over the top of the potato slices. Take a sheet of parchment paper and scrunch it up. Run under tap water. Wring out and place over the tomatoes. Tuck under and bake at 350f (180c) for 1 hour or until rice is cooked.
the culinary chase’s note:
Serve as is or with your favourite protein. Enjoy!