Pomodori gratinati

Following a bit of a hiatus -- our last post was all the way back in April, I believe --  my fellow Cucina Conversations bloggers and I are back with another round of recipes (!!!) After some deliberation, we've decided to post on a quarterly instead of monthly basis, which is a lot easier for all of us -- after all, blogging is a pretty time-consuming activity in itself, and if you add work, a family, and travel to that it can sometimes seem nearly impossible. Our topic for this month is stuffed, a theme that in Italian cooking can cover anything from stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini to involtini to braciole to any sort of stuffed seasonal veggie. With no further ado, here's our July line-up:

Daniela of La Dani Gourmet will be sharing her recipe for pomodori ripieni al forno con patate, or tomatoes stuffed with rice and served with roasted potatoes;

Carmen of The Heirloom Chronicles will be making a timballo di riso or a savory rice cake; 

Flavia of Flavia's Flavors will be making olive all'ascolana or stuffed fried olives;

Marialuisa of Marmellata di Cipolle will be making zucchine ripiene or stuffed zucchini;

Last but not least, Rosemarie over at Turin Mamma will be preparing melanzane ripiene, or stuffed eggplant.

My selection for this round is pomodori gratinati, aka stuffed tomatoes, a dish with a short and sweet recipe list -- just some tomatoes, a few slices of leftover bread, a smidge of garlic, and some herbs. It is the very definition of the "Less is More" approach that you find so often in Italian cooking, where a handful of humble ingredients + a simple preparation = a truly stellar dish. (See also: bruschetta al pomodoro; spaghetti aglio e olio; pasta e fagioli; etc etc)

But the recipe! Here the overall tomato-ness of our tomatoes is intensified and concentrated with a little roasting, the perfect vehicle for the filling, or rather: a delightful mix of sharp-salty Parmesan, spicy assertive garlic, and summery basil, all held together with a little bread and a good bit of tomato for an extra tomato punch. But wait, there's more! -- each tomato half is topped off with a scattering of breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil for  little crunch, texture, and toasty golden brown color (swoon). It will probably not surprise you in the least then to know that these made for a divine lunch paired with some oh-so-heavenly burrata and an extra sprinkling of basil, but don't let me tell you what to do! These would also be great eaten alongside mozzarella di bufala or even ricotta or goat cheese, or just enjoyed as a starter on their own, if you want to keep things simple. Downside: I know, I know, you need to turn on your oven to make these but Upside: you probably have air conditioning in your house, unlike us living in Roman apartments, so this shouldn't be a problem for most of you. That being said -- whatever the temperature in your kitchen might be, these are worth making, promise.

A couple of notes: If you don't have stale bread on hand, no problem! Mine was fairly fresh and I just toasted it for a bit and it worked fine. Note that if the filling is a little dark it's because I used a darker whole wheat bread. Feel free to experiment with the cheese and herbs here (Pecorino instead of Parmesan, oregano and thyme instead of basil, etc). If you don't have a food processor, you could always chop the ingredients by hand very finely; the filling won't be as smooth but it will still work just fine. I don't love garlic so I used just half a clove, but feel free to use a full clove if you like. I ended up using 1/4 teaspoon of salt in my filling but start slowly and taste as you go, as the saltiness of your cheese/the salt content in you bread etc might be different than what I used (remember: when it comes to salt, you can always add but it is more difficult to subtract). Finally, this filling would also be good in summer zucchine or as a filling for other veg. 

Looking for other Tomato-centric recipes? I've got these Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes with Potatoes, this Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, this Cherry Tomato Cobbler, these Tomato Basil and Goat Cheese Shortcakes, this Tomato Corn and Zucchini Pie, and this Cherry Tomato Crostata.


4 large (about 550 grams) tomatoes 
3 ounces (80 grams, more or less) stale bread
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 a garlic clove
10 basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Cut the tomatoes in half (lengthwise or crosswise is fine, as you prefer) and using a spoon and the help of a knife if necessary, remove the pulp from the tomatoes. Put the pulp and juices in a small bowl and set aside. Let the tomatoes drain on to a few paper towels for about 15 minutes. 
In the meantime, put the garlic, basil, bread, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan in a food processor and process until fine. Add the tomato pulp -- not the juices, just the pulp! -- to the food processor and process again.
Line up the drained tomato halves in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill each tomato half with the stuffing mixture. Next, mix together the 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan and sprinkle them over the tomatoes. 

Drizzle the tomatoes with some olive oil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the filling is golden brown and the tomatoes are softened. Let cool and serve, accompanied by some mozzarella di bufala or burrata if you'd like. Serves 3-4.  


  1. Beautiful recipe, Francesca! I love how you paired these with burrata. I'm coming over!

  2. Love your step by step photos as always Francesca! Am a big fan of stuffed tomatoes (whether it's with rice, meat or leftover bread of some kind). Love the burrata serving combination too. Look forward to seeing you when you come to Turin later this year. Un abbraccio! xo