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

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

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 🙂

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


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) – this 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°C) 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°C (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.


Gloriously simple, gloriously good!






How to make Suppli (Supplì) | Arancini | Breaded Risotto Balls

What are Supplì?

Suppli (correctly spelt Supplì) or Arancini are Breaded Risotto Balls

Suppli | Arancini | Breaded Risotto Balls | Supplì | Tomato and Mozzarella Arancini | Tomato and Mozzarella Suppli

Suppli come from Rome and the Lazio region.  These delicious Breaded Risotto Balls are known as Arancini throughout many other parts of Italy and are originally from Sicily.

One of the main differences between Supplì and Arancini is that Supplì tend to have cheese in the centre.  The very traditional Roman Supplì are made with a meat & tomato risotto and have mozzarella in the centre.

Suppli are exquisite Italian morsels.  You can eat them as starters (that’s their original place in a meal) or as finger-food at a buffet, as a main meal with a salad, or as a perfect TV dinner, to name but a few ways to enjoy these versatile little risotto balls!  Supplì are usually served in traditional “Pizzerie” (Pizza Restaurants) as ‘antipasti’ (starters).  They can be made with almost any risotto base.

For about a year, I ran a business (Cini Ltd), making and selling these delicious morsels.  I put together a short video to show you a glimpse of what a day in the Cini Suppli kitchen used to look like (hours of work condensed into under 2 mins of video!)

The Roman/Lazio “Supplì al Telefono” (called that way because, when cut in half, the two halves are on a ‘telephone wire’ to each other via the stringy melted cheese) tend to be more oval-shaped, whereas “Arancini” can have round, oval or tear-drop shapes. I tend to make them all into small, round morsels as they are easier to shape and easier to eat as a snack or appetiser.  They make fabulous party food!

Supplì are not hugely difficult to make, though they do require patience as they take time.  It may take a few attempts before you get them right, but it’s worth persevering.  If you really don’t want to make them yourself, do make sure you try them if you go to Rome.  Or ask for Arancini in other parts of southern Italy, especially Naples and Sicily.

The recipe below is for small, round vegetarian – tomato and mozzarella – ones (traditional Roman ones are larger and oval, and are made with a minced meat and tomato risotto base – similar to a bolognese sauce in a risotto – rather than a simple tomato and onion risotto base). 

This recipe makes approximately 35-40 small (roughly golf ball sized) Supplì:


  • Tomato risotto made with 300g dry rice  (see recipe – but don’t add the extra knob of butter or parmesan at the end – or buy a pre-prepared risotto)

TIP:  If you were making ordinary risotto, you would leave it quite ‘wet’, but for the Supplì you need to ensure you don’t have excess liquid.  Also, bear in mind that the rice will become drier as it cools down and absorbs the last of the moisture.

  • 75g soft fresh mozzarella (drained weight)
  • 300-400g cheap, semi-stale, white bread made into breadcrumbs in a food blender
TIP:  place the breadcrumbs onto a large, deep food-serving/oven tray.  You won’t use all the breadcrumbs but you’ll need an ample supply of them in order to thoroughly coat the individual supplì
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •  200g plain white flour – as with the breadcrumbs, you won’t use all of it but you need plenty to roll the supplì in…put it in a large tray so you have ample space
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Leave the risotto to cool for a couple of hours or, ideally, in a fridge overnight
  •  Add vegetable oil to a medium saucepan until half full (approx. 3-4cm in depth) and place on the hob, on a medium-high heat, taking care never to let it over-heat and become smoky – or, heat oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C
  • Prepare yourself a little production line: the risotto, a bowl/plate containing the mozzarella (torn into small pieces), another bowl containing the plain white flour, one with the lightly beaten eggs and another containing the breadcrumbs
TIP: I like to use latex/vinyl gloves when rolling the Supplì – it stops my hands from turning orange and also allows the fat from the risotto to stay on the rice rather than absorb into my hands, which makes it easier to coat the rice balls in flour.  I also like to have a bowl of lukewarm water and a towel handy so that I can wash excess breadcrumbs from my hands between batches.
  • Take a small handful of rice and squeeze it in the palm of your hand until it starts sticking together; roll it into a ball then, using your finger, poke a hole into the middle
  • Place a piece of mozzarella into the hole, then close it up again and form a neat ball between the palms of your hands, ensuring that no mozzarella sticks out
  • Lightly roll the rice ball in flour
  • Dip the rice ball into the eggs
  • Place the rice ball onto the breadcrumbs, then gather a good amount in your hands and cover the rice ball. Pick the rice ball up and compact the breadcrumbs further with the palms of your hands, ensuring an even (but not too thick) coating and so that there are no parts of the rice ball that have no coating
TIP: You can either repeat this process until all your rice balls are ready to fry or you can do them in batches of 3-4 and roll the next batch while you’re frying the previous one; the latter method is faster, but if you’re nervous about timings/burning the supplì, do the two steps separately.
  • If using a pan rather than a deep-fat fryer, check the temperature of the oil: if you drop a few breadcrumbs into it the oil should ‘fizz’ but the breadcrumbs should slowly turn golden, not instantly brown/blacken (if that’s the case, it’s too hot – take it off the heat for a couple of minutes, then test again)
  • Drop a batch of supplì (not too many – 3-4, depending on the size of the pan/fryer you’re using) into the oil.  You need to have enough oil in the pan for this to be a deep-frying process, so the supplì are fully immersed in hot oil without touching the bottom of the pan
  • After 3-4 minutes, the supplì should be golden.  Lift them out with a slotted spoon (or fryer basket) and rest them on a tray or plate, lined with absorbent paper (e.g. kitchen roll)
  • Repeat the process until they are all cooked
  • Serve after they have had a couple of minutes to cool down

TIP: You can make these a day in advance and then reheat them in the oven, at 180°C (fan-assisted, otherwise 200°C) for approx. 20 mins

 Supplì | Gloriously Good!