Wild-rice stuffed tomato gratinée

2 cups water

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 medium (about 2-1/2″ in diameter) tomatoes

1/2 small (about 2″) onion, minced

1 medium clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 cup chicken stock or broth

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup cooked mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

4 tablespoons panko

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Wild-rice stuffed tomato gratinée

Makes 8

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the wild rice, adjust heat to a simmer, and cover. Stir occasionally, and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until most of the rice has split open. Drain the rice and set aside to cool.

While the wild rice is cooking, core the tomatoes. Use a grapefruit spoon or other small serrated implement, and core from the blossom rather than the stem end (the stem end will provide a more stable base for the tomato). Cut out all the pulp and seeds, and capture the juice by doing your work over a small bowl. Make sure you get most of the ribs, too.

Salt the inside of the tomato “cases” and turn stem-side up over a rack to drain.

Measure out 1/2 cup of the tomato juice, straining out the seeds (if you come up short, run the pulp through a food mill to extract more. Otherwise, discard the pulp.) Add to it 1/2 cup of chicken broth and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until the bits of onion have separated and started to become tender. Add the garlic and stir to combine. As soon as you can smell the garlic cooking, add the white rice and stir, until the rice is lightly toasted.

Stir in the juice-broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 18 minutes.

While the white rice is cooking, make the topping. Melt the butter in a small pan or in a bowl in the microwave. Add the panko and stir to coat. Let cool slightly and add the cheese. Stir to combine. 

Turn your oven to 350°F, and lightly grease a baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes.

When the white rice is done, combine the two rices, the mushrooms, thyme, red pepper and black pepper. Combine thoroughly and taste. The mixture should be assertively seasoned but not too salty, since it’s going to be stuffed into the pre-salted tomatoes.

Using a scooper or spoon, fill the tomato cases with the rice mixture. You can slightly round the top of the filling if you’ve got enough to go around, but remember that there’s still a gratin topping to go.

Sprinkle the panko mixture on the tops of the tomatoes and press gently to get some adhesion.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened and the topping has browned.

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