I made my own breadcrumbs for this, but it’s not really necessary. It is nice, though. If you happen to have some leftover baguette lying around, or some crusty white bread or something like that, it will take you about 5 minutes. Just cut off the crust, cut the soft center into cubes, and whirl the cubes in a food processor until they are reduced to fine crumbs. (Only process a couple of handfuls at a time, though, or the motor of the machine could overheat.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Holding them over a bowl, scoop out their insides – flesh, seeds, and juice – and let it all fall into the bowl. Set the tomatoes in a lightly oiled 9”x13” baking dish. Then fish the flesh out of the bowl, and chop it. Return it to the bowl with the juice and seeds.
In a medium (2-quart) saucepan, warm a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add the rice, and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute or two. Add the tomato flesh, juice, and seeds – it may look like a lot, but add it all – as well as the water. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces, and add them too. Add a generous pinch or two of salt. Reduce the heat slightly, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, and if needed, add more salt.
Spoon the par-cooked rice mixture into the tomatoes. Top them with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Arrange the potato slices around the tomatoes in the pan. Give everything a good drizzle of olive oil. (You might want to flip and rub the potatoes a bit, to make sure that each has a nice coat of oil.) Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The tomatoes should shrivel a bit and release some of their juices, and the potatoes should cook through.
Cool for 15 minutes or so before eating, so that the tomato juices have time to settle.
Yield: 4 servings