My mother-in-law, Misa Fornari, used to prepare these. She swore that the only time to make them was in the summer when you could get real, home or locally grown tomatoes and she was right.
Ripe tomatoes, as many as you have or will fit into the baking pan you’ll use.
One tablespoon of rice per tomato, plus an extra tablespoon “for the pot.”
About a tablespoon of chopped basil and parsley for every two tomatoes…or more if you’re an herb lover!
One clove of garlic for every two tomatoes.
One tablespoon of olive oil for every two tomatoes. (My mother-in-law used more, so don’t hesitate if you’re an olive oil fan.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Here are the ingredients you need: ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and perhaps parsley, garlic (roasted) rice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Don’t worry if the tops are cracked or blackened as you see on the fruit here. Still delicious!
Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and save them. Don’t worry if they are cracked or not that pretty – they will be transformed in the cooking process and help keep the rice moist. Cut out the hard core (on the right in this photo) and discard. Use a scoop to hollow out the tomato seeds and inside walls, and put that into a bowl, leaving the flesh on the outside intact as shown in the tomato on the left.
Place the hollowed out tomatoes in a greased pan. Use your hands or a potato masher to pulverize the tomato “innards” that are in the bowl.
There can be some big chunks in the resulting juice – don’t make it too finely mashed!
Roast the garlic for about 20 minutes and then squeeze it out of its paper into the olive oil. I use one tablespoon of oil and one garlic clove for every two tomatoes. Mash the soft garlic into the oil.
Measure out one tablespoon of raw rice for every tomato you have, and add an extra tablespoon “for the pot.” (The more is more approach.) Pour the oil and garlic mix into this raw rice and stir well so it’s evenly blended.
Chop the basil and parsley, and add to the mashed tomato insides along with the rice, salt and pepper. You see some green basil and parsley here, plus some blue African basil, which has a purplish leaf. Our blue African basil did better this year than the regular varieties so I’ve been mixing the two when I cook. Stir well.
Fill the hollowed out tomatoes with the rice, oil, tomato, herb mixture. Fill each shell almost to the top. Be sure to keep stirring the rice/tomato mixture as you fill since the rice tends to settle to the bottom of the bowl quickly. The rice will spill over into the pan when it’s cooking which is OK.
Place the top back onto each tomato. Cover the pan with foil and put in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. Then open the oven and remove the foil. After 30 minutes open the oven and check the pan. If it is filled with tomato liquid, carefully pour most of the liquid off into a saucepan and return the tomatoes to the oven. Bake for about 15 to 20 more minutes. Cook any liquid in the saucepan down to a thick syrup and pour this back over the tomatoes.
This is what the stuffed tomatoes look like when they are finished cooking. I added three sprigs of fresh basil for a garnish but this is optional.
Serve these tomatoes either warm or at room temperature. They have a light, fresh tomato taste.