rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

Rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes | Pomodori ripieni al riso con patate

This recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes was originally my Nonna Wanda’s recipe, with the addition of potatoes made by my Zia Emilia to make it more authentically Roman.

Here is a photo of the recipe as cooked by my Zia Emilia in Rome on my last visit, in May 2017:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes made by zia Emilia | pomodori ripieni di riso con le patate, fatti da zia Emilia

And here is my latest rendition of this delicious dish:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

The quantities and timings etc in this recipe are, as many of the recipes passed down from generation to generation in our family, vague and open to interpretation / personal touch, but I’ve tried to be a bit more precise so you can follow it, too ūüôā

Ingredients (for 3-6 people, depending on whether it is a starter, main course, or side dish): 

  • 6 large beef tomatoes
  • Arborio rice (approximately 2 small fistfuls per tomato)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley (a good handful)
  • Fresh basil (a good handful)
  • Half a medium onion
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Potatoes (5-6 medium sized ones) – watch this video for the best way to cut potatoes the Italian way
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Here is the hand-written recipe written down by my Zia Emilia as dictated by her mum, my Nonna Wanda, when Zia Emilia was preparing to get married and leave home.  You can see the addition of the potatoes on page 2:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg1

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg2

Start by cutting the potatoes.  Ideally, do these the Italian way (watch video) Рthis allows them to cook slightly unevenly, giving you lovely crispy edges and soft centres.

Tip: Cutting potatoes this way and roasting them with rosemary and olive oil is a delicious Italian way to do roast potatoes!

Place these into an oven dish and set aside for now.

Then cut the tops off the tomatoes (think little ‘hats’).¬† Slice two thin strips off the ‘discarded’ tomato tops and set aside (you’ll use these later for decoration, to top your stuffed tomatoes), and chop up the remaining ‘discarded’ tops into small pieces.¬† Add these small pieces to the potatoes.¬† Season the potatoes and tomato pieces with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, add a generous glug of olive oil, toss, and place in a pre-heated oven (fan-assisted 180¬≠¬įC) for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rice: 

Place the rice in cold water, add a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so (check this as not all rice cooks at the same rate – you want to make sure the rice is still a little bit uncooked at the end of this stage).

While the rice is cooking, finely chop the half onion and soften it in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, over a low heat (let the onion soften slowly, making sure it does not go brown). Finely chop the parsley and basil, and add these to the onion just as the rice is nearly ready at the not quite cooked stage. Make sure you don’t fry the herbs for too long.

Drain the rice, leaving it quite wet, and saving the cooking water.¬† Add the rice to the pan with the olive oil, onion and herbs and stir, letting the rice continue to cook like a risotto.¬† You may need to add some of the cooking water to allow it to remain moist and cook until it is cooked, but still ‘al dente’. Make sure you don’t over-stir as this breaks up the rice grains.

Take it off the heat once it’s cooked and stir in about 2/3rds of the parmesan cheese.¬† Set aside.

Return to the tomatoes you previously removed the tops from. Carefully hollow these out with a spoon (the insides with the seeds are my favourite part of the tomato – I always used to eagerly await this stage when my Nonna made stuffed tomatoes, and still do when my Zia does them, so I could eat them, seasoned with a bit of salt).

Lightly season the insides of the hollow tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Once the potatoes have had about 25 minutes in the oven, take the oven dish out and give them a bit of a stir. Turn the oven down to 150¬įC (fan).

Take each hollow tomato and fill it as high as you can with the cooked rice mixture. Make a space amongst the potatoes and place the tomato in that space.¬† Repeat with each tomato, then sprinkle some parmesan onto each stuffed tomato and, finally, top each one with two strips of the tomato ‘lids’ you cut out earlier.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the rice has a crispy parmesan topping.  The potatoes should be cooked and golden, not overly brown.  This takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

Serve on their own, as a side-dish, or as a starter.¬† These are also delicious once they’ve cooled down a little to luke-warm.

Enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

 

 

 

 

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Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe pasta

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) is a simple, yet delicious way to serve pasta.  It is a typical dish from Rome, and can be served with spaghetti, linguine, or even short pasta such as rigatoni.

On this occasion, I made Linguine Cacio e Pepe.

Linguine Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients – Linguine Cacio e Pepe for 4 people

  • 500g Linguine
  • 200g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper
  • Drop of oil and fistful of salt for the pasta cooking water

Method

Put a large pan with water, a drop of oil and a fistful of salt on the hob and bring to the boil.  I usually advocate using the largest possible stockpot style pan for pasta cooking, but this recipe works best if you have very starchy water, so use a slightly smaller (but still ample) pan / less water than you usually would for pasta.

Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, stir after a minute or so, and occasionally during cooking, to ensure it doesn’t stick together.

While the pasta is cooking, finely grate the pecorino cheese.¬† The key to this recipe is the cheese.¬† Make sure you use a good quality pecorino romano and that you grate it as finely as you can – this will enable you to create the creamy sauce.¬† If the cheese is too coarsely grated, it won’t go creamy and will clump instead.

Grind plenty of black pepper into the pecorino.  How much you use, will depend on taste, but you are ideally aiming for a speckled look to the cheese, and for a good peppery kick to the sauce.

Once the pasta is nearly cooked (about a minute before it’s done), take a bit of water out of the pan with a ladle and stir it into the cheese with a fork.¬† Add a bit at a time (half a ladle or less) and stir each time, until you achieve the desired creamy consistency.

Cacio e pepe - the creamy 'sauce' consistency

This is what you are aiming for with the pecorino, pepper and cooking water.

Once the pasta is cooked, nicely ‘al dente’, drain it and immediately stir it through the cheese.

Serve onto pasta bowls and, if you wish, add a bit more freshly-ground black pepper.

Cacio e pepe pasta.  Gloriously Simple.  Gloriously Good! 

Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low-Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

I had the idea for this roasted courgette and sweet pepper soup when I made the roasted sweet pepper sauce.   This soup variation is delicious, rich, filling and low-fat, as well as reflux*-friendly.

Although it takes a little bit of time to make (not too much time), it is actually a very easy recipe.

If you are a reflux sufferer who does not tolerate garlic, simply leave it out of the recipe.  The soup will still taste delicious as the other ingredients pack a powerful flavour punch!   For those around your dinner table who do not suffer from reflux, this soup is delicious with the addition of a sprinkling of ground chilli flakes (these can be added to individual portions so everyone can have the soup as spicy Рor not Рas they wish).

Roasted Courgette and Sweet Pepper Soup | Low Fat Courgette and Pepper Soup | Reflux Recipe

Ingredients (for 8 generous portions as a main meal)

  • 10 peppers (mixture of red, orange and yellow – red and orange are tastier, in my opinion, than yellow, so I use more of those)
  • 8 large courgettes
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • a generous sprinkling of dried oregano
  • sea salt
  • 1l chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian / vegan alternative) – I use Knorr Chicken Stock Pots (2, dissolved in 1l boiling water)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 220¬įC (fan).

Cut the courgettes into quarters lengthways, then cut each length into roughly 1.5cm pieces.  Place into a large roasting tin (you may need to spread these over two roasting tins, as there will be quite a lot to start with), drizzle 2tbsp olive oil over the top, add a light sprinkling of sea salt and a generous sprinkling of oregano (how much oregano you use depends on how much you like the taste).

De-seed and cut the peppers into large chunks. ¬†Remove all the garlic cloves from their bulbs, removing any excess/loose ‘skin’, without peeling the garlic cloves. ¬†Lightly squash the cloves, using the side of a large knife and pressure from the palm of your hand – enough to burst the skins a little and flatten the cloves a bit, but not enough to peel the cloves or break them up. ¬†Place the peppers into a large roasting tin (or two, depending on the size of your tins!), drizzle 2tbsp olive oil over the top, add a light sprinkling of sea salt and a generous sprinkling of oregano (how much oregano you use depends on how much you like the taste).

Place your tins in the oven (you may need to do this in stages if you can’t fit them all in at once). ¬†Roast for approximately 40 minutes, mixing halfway through cooking. ¬†You are aiming for the vegetables to be very well cooked and soft, with blackened bits, and for the garlic cloves to have gone very soft.

Put the roasted courgettes (and any remaining roasting juices) into a blender, add just a little bit of chicken stock (enough to aid the blending process) and blend to desired consistency (I like to leave a little bit of courgette texture so I don’t blend it to a completely smooth consistency, but almost). ¬†Transfer the resulting pur√©e¬†into a large pan / stockpot.

Tip: If you are doing this while it is still hot, ensure the jug on your blender is heat proof, that the jug is not over-full (do in batches if needed) and that the removable centre section of the lid is removed.  Before you start blending, place the lid (with the hole in the top) firmly on the jug, then loosely hold a tea towel folded into a square over the hole.  Doing this will ensure that steam can escape and that your hot sauce doesn’t burst out of the blender.

Repeat the process with the peppers and garlic, including skins. ¬†Do not pour the blended peppers directly into the blended courgettes, but pour them into a fine sieve resting above the courgette ‘soup’. ¬†Do this in small batches and, using a spoon, stir the sauce so that it can go through the sieve, leaving behind only the tiny pieces of garlic and pepper skins. Keep doing this until you have sieved the entire contents of the blender¬†and you cannot push any more pulp through the sieve.¬†Use the rest of the chicken or vegetable stock¬†stock to ‚Äėwash out‚Äô the blender jug and get every drop¬†of this delicious roasted sweet pepper pur√©e¬†into your bowl.

Stir the courgette and pepper purées well to ensure they are completely mixed together.  Taste and, if required, adjust seasoning by adding salt.  The roasted courgette and sweet pepper soup will be quite thick, so you can add additional stock to make it runnier, if you prefer.

You can make this in advance and then re-heat it in a pan.  Serve hot with delicious fresh bread of your choice!

Any leftovers (if there are any!) can be refrigerated or frozen to be eaten another day in its soup form or used as a sauce for pasta, fish, and meat.

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Low Fat, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified. ¬†The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‚ÄėDropping Acid ‚Äď The Reflux Diet‚Äô book and ingredients that work for my reflux. ¬†If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you. ¬†I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management. ¬†The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet.¬†