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Antoni's Tomato, Basil and Melty Mozzarella Baked Rice

Antoni's Summer Corn with Choiczo and Cilantro + Tomato Basil and Melty Mozzarella Baked Rice
Antoni's Summer Corn with Choiczo and Cilantro + Tomato Basil and Melty Mozzarella Baked RiceNathan Congleton / TODAY


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juices
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 3 ounces), plus a Parmesan rind, if you have one, and more grated cheese for serving
  • cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
  • 1 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella

Chef notes

This is a big, cheesy dish made with rice that's molded around a filling of a rich tomato-basil sauce. It's all baked into a bundt pan — kinda like a veggie-centric version of the magnificent pasta timpano in the classic movie "Big Night." I've made my recipe easy enough to make for both holidays and anytime entertaining.



Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 2 bay leaves, and a pinch of salt, then stir in the tomato paste and cook until the paste begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes.


Add the tomatoes and their juices, while breaking the tomatoes apart with a wooden spoon. Then bury the bunch of basil (and the Parmesan rind, if using) in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the Parm rind (if you used it) and the basil. Set the sauce aside to cool.


Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the rice, broth, and the remaining 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, without removing the lid, for 15 minutes. The rice should be al dente. Give the rice a stir, transfer it to a large bowl, and let it cool until it's just warm to the touch, 10-15 minutes.


Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle.


Stir the grated Parmesan cheese into the cooled rice. Adjust the salt if necessary, then stir in the eggs to thoroughly combine.


Generously grease the inside of a 12-cup bundt pan, including the central tube, with all the butter. Add 3/4 cup of the bread crumbs, then tilt the pan to coat all sides. Using your hands, line the bottom and the sides of the pan, including the central tube, with an even layer of the rice, using about three quarters of it and bringing it up to about 1/2 inch from the top of the pan. Tear the mozzarella into small shreds and scatter over the bottom layer of rice. Add all but about 1 cup of the tomato sauce, then cover the sauce and cheese with the remaining rice, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon to seal the edges. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs and brush with oil (this will give you a nice crispy crust).


Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges are crispy, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gently rewarm the reserved sauce.


Invert the rice onto a large serving plate. Fill the cavity with the reserved tomato sauce. Garnish with basil leaves, then top with more grated Parmesan and a drizzle of oil. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Excerpted from Antoni in the Kitchen © 2019 by Antoni Porowski with Mindy Fox. Photography © 2019 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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