Thursday, November 13, 2008
Basil (Rice) Risotto-Stuffed Tomatoes
When I saw this dish in the Yummy Magazine, June 2008 edition, I knew I really have to make this! It has all the ingredients that we love! The tomatoes, basil, olive oil and rice!!!
But before I share the recipe, I'd like to mention that I am sharing these tomatoes stuffed with rice to the World Food Day - Time to be Thankful event, hosted this time by Ivy of Kopiaste. World Food Day is a monthly food event launched by Ivy of Kopiaste, and Val of More Than Burnt Toast. They are joined by Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen with the aim to bring awareness to our readers about the hunger problems that exist around the world and which seem to be getting worse day after day, after this huge worldwide economic crisis. The theme for this month is Being Thankful.
I already have a previous entry, but I'd like to share this rice dish as well. You see, rice is a staple food of all Filipinos (and of most Asian people as well.) Maybe it is hard for a foreigner to imagine, but we eat rice three times a day, and a meal is not complete without rice. Most often, the rice we eat at a regular meal is simply plain white rice. It is only on special occasions when we cook special rice dish such as paella, bringhe, yang chow fried rice or risotto.
That is why when there was a worldwide rice shortage early this year, the price of rice actually doubled!!! (There was a greater demand than supply.) The government had no choice but to provide rice at subsidized prices. But just this past week, when I visited the market, I found out that the prices of rice has lowered a bit. Still higher than the prices last year, but significantly lower than the price in May. I think this is because it is harvest season and there are many new rice available. This is good news, a welcome news, in fact, as there will be lots of festivities in the coming holiday season.
For all these years, my family always have rice on the table. For that alone, I am thankful. My grandmother would always tell stories of her life during war (World War II) , when they cannot find any food, any rice to eat. Even when she had money, there would be no rice to buy. And if she does not have money, well... that's another story. So, as children, we would always be required to finish off each grain of rice on our plate. For my grandmother's lesson, I am thankful. I am instilling this same discipline to my kids as well. My mother-in-law would also share that she would extend the rice supply she has by cooking porridge (gruel) all the time. She says they have hot, filling food. That was enough. Even my young son said that he is happy and thankful that he is born now, in this time, instead of during the war, or when our immigrant ancestors were living a poor and hard life.
I am thankful, grateful, in fact, to our brave, hardworking immigrant ancestors who came to this land to start, to rebuild their (and consequently, our) lives. I remember their stories. I am grateful for the values and character they instill in us. I hope the stories will continue on as I retell them to my children, and hopefully to my children's children. May we who are living in the time of plenty never forget the lessons and history of our people.
3 large tomatoes
1/4 C finely packed basil leaves, washed, chopped finely
1/4 C olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 C Japanese rice
3 T tomato paste
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 T pine nuts
3 C water or chicken stock
parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
salt and pepper to taste
1. Core the large tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and inner flesh. Discard the seeds and chop the inner flesh and the tomato meat from the top. Set tomatoes aside.
2. Add some of the olive oil to the chopped basil leaves.
3. Saute onions in the remaining olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until wilted. Add the rice and saute in the oil. Add the tomato paste, bell pepper and pine nuts.
4. Pour in the chicken stock. Let rice cook, covered, until mixture is almost dry, thick and creamy. Add the basil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. Arrange the hollow large tomatoes on a greased baking sheet. Brush the sides of the tomatoes with olive oil. Stuff each tomato with the rice mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove tray from oven. Top each tomato with parmesan cheese. Bake for 5 minutes more. (Guess what? I was too lazy to fire up the oven again. I used the oven toaster and it worked just as well.)
Result? Flavorful, creamy, yummy rice that is sure to impress your family and guests. Hubby said if only for this dish, he is willing to buy fresh, large tomatoes every week for me to cook!
Also sharing this dish with the Bookmarked Recipes community, headed and hosted by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. Bookmarked Recipes is a weekly food event that features the dishes we made from a blog, a cookbook, or a magazine or a cooking TV show. To see last week's delicious round-up please click here.