Food Challenge Recipe 32: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes

I’ve made a few recipes from Smitten Kitchen during this challenge, and the last one I made Baked Tomato Sauce for Pasta was SO GOOD I knew I wanted to try another of her recipes soon.

I saw this recipe online, and actually made it on the same night as another of my favourite bloggers made her version of the same recipe – great minds and all that.

I like tomatoes, but not as much as my husband. Unfortunately, I was spoiled by an over-use of acidic tinned tomatoes in the 90s, and that somewhere ruined my like for the fruit. And I’ll also point out that the tomatoes we can get where I live tend to be watery and tasteless for most of the year. If I can find a recipe that brings out the natural sweetness of them, without having to add too much sugar, then I’m all in.

I will now add a disclaimer, that though I used to ALWAYS read a recipe over before starting, on this occasion I did my becoming-more-usual thing of skim-reading and missing the important parts…. nice work, Erin. So there were a couple of mistakes, but I think I managed to improvise adequately!

So, first off, I took 4 large vine tomatoes, and cut the tops off. I then scooped out the flesh, making sure not to pierce the bottoms or break the sides.

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I salted the cavities, and turned them upside down on a plate to drain.

My first mistake was to throw out the tomato tops, because I was meant to keep them to pop onto the tomatoes later. But I didn’t – doh!

The flesh went into my blend-active bottle, to be lightly blitzed into a pulpy liquid.

My second mistake was to miss the part of the recipe where I needed a frying pan with a lid. I don’t own one of these, but I could have used a saucepan, and I didn’t. So, you’ll need a frying pan with a lid for the next part…..

I added some olive oil to the pan, and once heated added 1 tbsp of chopped onion, 1/2 crushed garlic clove and some chilli flakes and cooked them for a couple of minutes.

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Then I added 6 tbsp of arborio rice and cooked it together for about 3 minutes until the rice had started to toast.

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Then I added the blitzed tomato pulp, brought it to a simmer and reduced the heat to medium-low. I seasoned this with a little salt and a tsp of dried Italian seasoning.

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I mixed this together, and then covered with an improvised lid – some kitchen roll. This wasn’t greatly effective and it absorbed come of the steam, so later on in the cooking process I needed to add a little boiled water, to help the rice along. This simmered for 10-15 minutes (until the rice was par cooked). I tasted this towards the end, and added some sugar, pepper and salt, to taste.

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During this cooking time, I prepared some red potatoes by chopping them into cubes and coating with seasoning and a little oil.

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The rice was ready, so I popped the mixture into the tomato shells, which were filled 7/8 of the way. At this stage you can either pop the tops back on, or some breadcrumbs. I had neither (doh!) so I just went with them the way they were.

They stood up in a prepared (oiled) baking dish, in amongst the potatoes which helped to keep the tomatoes upright.

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These baked in the oven at 180C (fan) for 30 minutes. I jostled the potatoes about a little on a couple of occasions to stop them from sticking too much.

And once they were done, they looked like this:

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The rice had started to brown and crisp up on top, and the tomatoes were soft and beginning to burst a little at the tops.

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So, what was the verdict?

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The rice was cooked just right, and the top part of the rice was slightly crunchy which I really enjoyed. The seasoning was spot on and the tomato shells were perfectly cooked.

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The potatoes were a great accompaniment. I’m a ketchup fan, so a little ketchup to dip both elements into, brought the whole dish together.

This was a fairly simple and very tasty dish. I’d like to try this again, and perfect those two elements I messed up, so I can see what difference it makes.

I give this recipe 7.5/10

 

 

Food Challenge Recipe 29: Baked Tomato Sauce

This week’s recipe was adapted from one I saw from Smitten Kitchen, after seeing her post about it on instagram. I have one of her books, but this recipe wasn’t in there, so I got it off the website.

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When I saw the ingredients and method, it looked so simple, but I was afraid that the mild watery cherry tomatoes available to me would affect the flavour of the finished sauce. Thankfully, this recipe, and the accompanying ingredients, worked together wonderfully to create a fantastically fresh and beautifully tomatoey sauce, in all the ways you’d want it to be tomatoey!

Here’s what I did for sauce enough for 2 people:

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I took a small punnet of cherry tomatoes (about 250g) and sliced each one across its equator. Then I lay each one out, cut side up, in a baking dish, which had had 1 tbsp of olive oil coated over the bottom. You need to create a single layer of tomatoes.

Next I combined 1/6 cup of panko breadcrumbs, 1/8 cup of vegan parmesan, 1 tbsp of lacto-free mature cheddar cheese that had been grated and 1 crushed garlic clove. I mixed them with a fork to combine.

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Then the whole lot was spread over top of the tomatoes.

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You’ve got to make sure each tomato has a good amount of coating. Then I added a little salt and pepper, and drizzled with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.

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This was then popped into the oven at 180c (fan) for 20 minutes, until the crumbs are starting to brown and the cheese is all melted.

At this time I put some pasta on to cook, so that it was ready at the same time as the tomatoes.

At the end of their cooking time, I took the baked tomatoes out of the oven and added 1/8 cup fresh chopped basil and lightly mashed the tomatoes with a fork.

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This created the sauce! The recipe then asked for another tbsp of oil to be added, but I didn’t want to add any more oil for dietary reasons. I don’t feel like it needed it.

I then mixed in the pasta, and Bob’s your uncle!

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The finished sauce was fresh, tasty and well seasoned. The tomato flavour wasn’t lost. The breadcrumbs had mushed up, so weren’t crunchy at all, however they had mixed with the cheese to create a savoury, thick, seasoning. The basil was a fantastic addition. It added a fragrant green freshness.

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We chose this pasta shape because I know it holds onto sauce very well. If you make this, I’d recommend that you use a small pasta shape that will hold onto the sauce, too.

I can see me making this pasta sauce regularly. It was simply, quick and so tasty!

I give this recipe 10/10