``Antipasto'' means ``before the meal.'' ``It more or less puts a slight hold on your appetite - a teaser,'' says Margaret Romagnoli. This recipe is from ``The New Romagnolis' Table'' (Atlantic Monthly Press, $15.95, paper).

6 medium-size tomatoes

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

6 fresh basil leaves

1/2 clove garlic

1/2 cup medium-grain rice, preferably arborio

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash the tomatoes, and cut off the tops about a quarter of the way down, so that you can get at the insides. Save the tops. Scoop out the seeds and the inner pulp with its juices, and strain through a sieve or vegetable mill into a small bowl. Salt the tomatoes and turn upside down to drain for 15 minutes. Chop the parsley, basil, and garlic very fine, and add to the tomato juice with the rice. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Mix well.

Put this mixture into the tomato shells, filling them no more than half full. Place them in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and cover each tomato with its own top.

Bake at 375 degrees F. for half an hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F., and baste the tomatoes with the juice from the baking dish, using a bulb baster to get the liquid into the rice without disturbing the tops too much. Bake another half an hour or so, until the rice is really tender.

Serves 6.

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