Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tomatoes Filled with Rice: Yoda commands you to make them

She’s always right.

Even when I think I’m right – think that this time I’m the one who has all the answers on life, love (hah!) and what to order at a restaurant, she inevitably ends up with a winning hand and the best dessert at the table.

It’s annoying as heck having a best friend who always knows better, but I still turn to her for everything like she’s my personal Yoda. I send her Anthropologie links to get her approval on a dress before purchasing. I forward her my messages before deciding if I want to go out with “Lookin4aLuv2Last.” And I always consult her when I don’t understand some government or public policy or want to discuss earthquake preparedness.

She’s not my mom, but some days my friend Ashley could be mistaken for her. I don’t know any other 26-year-old with her confidence and wisdom. Wise beyond her years is an understatement – she’s wise beyond both our years combined.

So when she made the Twitter announcement, “If tomato season is in full swing near you, pls make this recipe immediately. I just did. It won't disappoint.," I knew I had to get to the farmer’s market for some tomatoes in the near future. While the “near future” was ultimately five weeks later, the dish, as Ashley promised, did not disappoint.

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe for Orangette’s tomatoes filled with rice – adding garlic, parmesan, and using wine instead of water when I par-cooked the risotto – and even though I hadn’t consulted my Yoda first, I was still very pleased with the final results.

My only point of contention with the recipe is the side of potatoes. While Ashley finds the toasty taters a delightful pairing to the slow-roasted tomatoes, I found them superfluous and omitted them when I made the recipe again this weekend. I have, however, included them in the instructions below. Not because I think I’m wrong in my potato assessment, but then again, I am going up against Yoda on this.

David and Goliath, I tell you.

Either way, make these tomatoes immediately. Not because I said so, but because Ashley did.

Tomatoes Filled with Rice
Adapted from Orangette who adapted it from Wednesday Chef

4 large, vine-ripened tomatoes (I tried with beef steak the second time and preferred the vine-ripened)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1/3 cup Arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
5 fresh basil leaves (or 3 cubes of frozen Trader Joe’s basil)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Panko crumbs (feel free to substitute bread crumbs)
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Holding them over a bowl, scoop out their insides – flesh, seeds, and juice – and let it all fall into the bowl. Set the tomatoes in a lightly oiled 9”x13” baking dish. Then fish the flesh out of the bowl, and chop it. Return it to the bowl with the juice and seeds.

In a medium (2-quart) saucepan, warm a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add the rice, and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the tomato flesh, juice, and seeds – it may look like a lot, but add it all – as well as the wine. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces, and add them too. Add a generous pinch or two of salt. Reduce the heat slightly, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes (I increased the time from 10 minutes to ensure the risotto would cook through in the oven). When rice has absorbed most of the liquid, remove from the heat and add additional salt as needed and two tablespoons of parmesan.

Spoon the par-cooked rice mixture into the tomatoes. Top them with a sprinkling of panko crumbs and the remaining tablespoon of parmesan. Arrange the potato slices around the tomatoes in the pan. Give everything a good drizzle of olive oil. (You might want to flip and rub the potatoes a bit, to make sure that each has a nice coat of oil.) Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The tomatoes should shrivel a bit and release some of their juices, and the potatoes should cook through.

Cool for 15 minutes or so before eating, so that the tomato juices have time to settle.


Ashley said...

Are you the sweetest person on earth? Why, yes. Yes, you are!

Diana said...

Ashley - Ding ding ding! You are right again! ;)

Esi said...

Alright, you've convinced me I need to make these. Soon! (glad tomato season lasts a while here)

FS said...

These look beautiful and delicious! I am totally impressed. The force is with DTB :D

Anna A. said...

Diana - I'm thinking about following Ashley on twitter now. Would that be too creepy? I've only met her once. :)

Kung Food Panda said...

Those looks great! I need to find me a personal Yoda!

Diana said...

Esi - I think you'd love these! Except of course for the toasty taters. ;)

Meg - Hah - thank you! Though I must admit, lately it's been feeling like the force is MIA!

Anna - Not at all! She's a fan of creepy.

Danny - I'd let you borrow Ashley sometime, but I'm afraid I'd never get her back!