Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I always hold out for as long as I possibly can before buying my first batch of summer tomatoes. Maybe it's a fear of disappointment; after all, I wait for that moment for months of long, cold winter. Or it could be that I like savoring the deliciously drawn-out anticipation. Or maybe it's just because I know tomatoes get sweeter and juicier as the summer days get longer and deeper.

Whatever my underlying reasons may be, the end result is always the same. Once I get that first heaving bag of tomatoes home, I go with the purest possible way to enjoy them--in a simple, seared tomato sauce with spaghetti cooked just under al dente, stacked between two slices of good, old-fashioned white sandwich bread in a tomato and mayo sandwich, or paired with creamy, luscious slices of fresh mozzarella and the barest sprinkling of torn basil. In this case, I bought exactly four perfect Jersey tomatoes from the TriBeCa greenmarket, stuffed them with rice and parsley, and blasted them in a hot oven for 45 minutes. Simple, fresh, and lovely--just the way a summer lunch should be. xo

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
Serves 4
4 medium tomatoes, stemmed
3 tablespoons Arborio rice
Handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the bottom quarter of each tomato and set the 4 pieces aside. Working over a large measuring cup to catch all the seeds and juices, use a small spoon to carefully scoop out the interior pulp without piercing the walls of the tomatoes. Arrange all the tomatoes cut side up in a baking dish just big enough for them to fit comfortably.

Lift out the large pieces of tomato pulp from the measuring cup and chop finely. Return the chopped pulp to the cup and discard all but 3/4 cup of the pulpy liquid. Add the raw rice, parsley, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with some of the seasoned rice and juices. Place one of the reserved tomato bottoms on top of each filled tomato. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the tomatoes.

Bake the tomatoes until the rice is tender and the tomatoes are soft, 40-50 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature before serving them.