Why It Works
- Par-cooking the potatoes and rice before roasting ensures that all of the elements of the dish end up properly cooked.
- Using passed tomato pulp and tomato paste to par-cook the rice risotto-style infuses it with deep, sweet and savory tomato flavor.
- The roast potatoes not only bring substance to the dish, but also serve a practical purpose, keeping the stuffed tomatoes upright in the baking dish while they roast in the oven.
This dish of roasted rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes is a classic don't-feel-like-cooking takeout meal in Rome, where it's sold at rotisserie and pizza al taglio shops. This is food that is best served at room temperature, during the dog days of summer, or any day you want to get all your cooking done early in the day so you can chill out with some vino come dinner time.
- 1 1/2 pounds (675g) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, cut into 3 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 beefsteak tomatoes (8 to 10 ounces each; 225 to 285g)
- Homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth or vegetable stock, if needed
- 1 large shallot (50g), minced
- 1 medium garlic clove (5g), minced
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces; 165g) risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15g) tomato paste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10ml) fish sauce, such as colatura (optional; see note)
- 1/2 ounce fresh basil leaves (1 loosely packed cup; 15g), roughly chopped
Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a large baking dish, combine potatoes, rosemary, and 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Spread potatoes in an even, single layer. Roast until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a piece of potato, about 30 minutes. Set baking dish aside to cool; keep oven on.
Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut top 1/2 inch off stem end of tomatoes and set aside. Carefully run knife along the cavity of the tomato to loosen core and pulp, then use a spoon to carefully scoop them out into a bowl. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Season insides of tomatoes and their tops with salt, and place them upside down on wire rack rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Set tomatoes aside.
Using a food mill, pass reserved tomato pulp into a non-reactive container; discard seeds. (Alternatively, you can blend the tomato pulp with a food processor or blender, though it'll retain some seeds and will be a lighter color due to incorporated air.) Measure yield of tomato pulp by transferring it to a liquid measuring cup; you should have about 2 1/4 cups (530ml); if you don't have that much, add low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock to reach that volume.
In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, heat 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallots, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until shallots are softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is softened as well, about 1 minute longer.
Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in oil and toasted but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (Rice grains should start to look like tiny ice cubes: translucent around the edges and cloudy in the center.) Stir in tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, until tomato paste evenly coats rice mixture and turns rust-colored, about 1 minute longer.
Add tomato pulp, increase heat to medium-high, and cook rice at a steady simmer, stirring frequently, until rice is just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in fish sauce (if using) and basil, and season with salt.
Blot tomato cavities with paper towels, then nestle them into potatoes in baking dish so that they remain upright. Fill tomatoes with rice mixture, set tops on tomatoes, and drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil.
Roast tomatoes until they are very tender and rice is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn oven to broil, remove tops from tomatoes (keeping them in baking dish) to expose rice, and broil until rice and potatoes are lightly charred and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes (keep a close eye as broiler intensity can vary significantly from one oven to the next). Remove baking dish from oven, and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The amount of rice used in this recipe can be adjusted to the yield of passed tomato pulp. You are looking for a 3:1 liquid to rice ratio, by volume.
Fish sauce intensifies the savory richness of the cooked tomato pulp in the rice. It can be omitted to keep the dish vegan.
Make-Ahead and Storage
This late summer dish is best served warm or at room temperature, so it can be made ahead of time, and either stored at room temperature if serving the same day, or covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.