My sweet yiayia used to make this tomato rice all the time. She learned it from her mother. For a big family with eight hungry children, this was the easiest meal you could prepare, especially at difficult times when they had no accessibility to other products except for the ones they grew in their own garden “bostani”.
Fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and the divine aroma of basilica, bonded together, to make a humble pot of rice taste like a royal flavored dish.
The new generation – my kids – love it too, ideally when combined with crumbled Greek Feta Cheese.
Hands on: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
3 tomatoes (medium size and very mature) - blended
1 onion (medium size) – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – peeled off and whole
80 ml olive oil
350 gr. rice (Carolina, Arborio or other long grain)
½ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons basilica (dry) or…
5 tablespoons basilica (fresh-finely chopped)
750 ml water (hot)
2 tablespoons butter
How to do it
Heat a big saucepan with the olive oil over medium heat.
Sauté the onion for 2 minutes (until it softens).
Add the whole garlic cloves and sauté them for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the rice and stir everything for 1 minute.
Finally the tomatoes (which are blended…you do not need to take the peel off), the sugar and the 750ml hot water.
Season with salt and pepper and stir until all the ingredients are combined.
Cook for 15-20 minutes (low heat) until the rice gets soft. Your mixture will absorb most of its liquids, but it should still look juicy.
Remove the garlic cloves. Add the basilica and the butter. Stir well.
Remove from heat. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and its lid. Set aside for 10 minutes to absorb the rest of the liquids.
Ready to serve now. Add some crumbled Greek feta cheese atop. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and some fresh basil. I like adding fresh ground black pepper too.
The success of the recipe lies on the quality and the maturity of the tomatoes you use. August is the best month in the Mediterranean region to find ripe and whole in taste tomatoes.
Check your rice while cooking. If all the water is absorbed (before the rice is cooked) add some more hot water and stir well.
You do not need to take the peel off the tomatoes before you blend them.