My husband has always disliked risotto. Yes I know, let us all pick up our collective jaws off the ground together. I couldn't believe it either. I've tried plying him with all different kinds but no, he steadfastly rejects it or picks at it sulkily as if I served him burnt toast. This dish however, changed his mind.
Stuffed vegetables are an impressive way of serving vegetables to the vegetable fearing children and a good way of getting hardened carnivores to try a vegetarian dish - even if it is unwittingly. I think it's the unknown promise of what's inside and the fact that a lot of stuffed vegetables use meat in some way. This one does not, although you could certainly add some. I don't think this really needs any to be honest though as it stands on taste alone.
I considered fancying this up with truffle oil but decided against it, after all its appeal is that it is simple, rustic food that happens to be inexpensive and easy to cook. It can be eaten as a side dish to a meat main or by themselves. They tomatoes can be filled ahead of time and put aside so they are ideal for a dinner party. And as you'd expect try and use truss tomatoes - using a tomato without the greenery on top just doesn't look the same.
Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
An original recipe by Not Quite Nigella
- 6 vine ripened tomatoes
- 50g risotto rice
- 25g mozzarella cheese
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/4 onion finely chopped
- fresh basil leaves
- salt and black pepper
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Slice off tops from tomatoes and reserve. Using a very small spoon (I use the "pinch" spoon from the Nigella set) scoop out seeds and drain in a sieve sitting on top of a bowl (I just leave the tomatoes to drain cut side down once I remove the seeds to ensure that the juice drips out), reserving the juice that comes out of the seeds.
Step 2 - Cook the risotto in a cup of salted boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Stir in onion, garlic and mozarella. Tear up a couple of basil leaves and add those too. Season with salt and pepper. Then add tomato juice.
Step 3 - Using the same small spoon carefully spoon risotto into the now empty cavities of the tomatoes. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until the skin is wrinkled.
Step 4 - Serve with fresh basil leaves.