Gemista (Stuffed Vegetables)

Yiayia’s Recipe

By Helen

 

When a Greek asks the question “with minced meat or without?” The fellow Greek will know exactly what he/she is talking about.  One of Greece’s all time favourite dishes leads a double life; sometimes it needs to be meatless and other times filled to the brim with meat (minced beef or lamb). Many a mother complain “Yianni wants them with meat and Daphne wants them with only raisins. I have to cook two separate batches every time!”

Personally, I prefer them without meat.  Yiaya’s (grandma’s) version called for raisins and pine nuts. Sometimes she would use only tomatoes and other times she’d add a couple of peppers, courgettes, and /or aubergines. Potatoes were cut into wedges and squeezed in between the vegetables, taking on the flavour of the vegetable it was compressed against whilst in the oven. Put simply, this dish is the aroma of home; Greece’s quintessential comfort food.

 

Before you begin making the filling, slice the tops off tomatoes and other vegetables. Scoop out most of the pulp with a teaspoon (gently as not to break the skin). Finely chop the pulp. Rinse and dry the vegetables and sprinkle the insides with a little sugar. Place in baking tray.   

 

 

Ingredients for 6 medium sized tomatoes and 3 bell peppers (or a combination of vegetables mentioned above). Ideally you need more tomatoes as you will need the pulp to make the filling juicier.

 

For the filling:

 

  •    1 red onion, chopped
  •    1 large carrot, chopped
  •    2 courgettes, chopped
  •    1 cup of arborio rice
  •    ¾ cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  •    2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  •    A handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  •    A handful of finely chopped dill
  •    Salt and pepper to taste
  •    Raisins (optional)
  •    Pine nuts (optional)
  •    1 or 2 potatoes, cut into wedges (optional)
  •    Extra virgin olive oil

 

 

Method

  • Fry the onion, courgette, and carrot in some olive oil until vegetables are tender
  • Add the rice and mix thoroughly
  • Add the chicken or vegetable stock, tomato paste, and chopped pulp
  • Add finely chopped herbs and raisins (and/or pine nuts)
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
  • Let it simmer for 5-6 mins (do not over cook rice as the majority of the cooking will be done in the oven
  • Remove from heat and let it cool slightly
  • Fill your tomatoes and other vegetables allowing room for the rice to expand (if you fill them up, they will explode. TRUST me.. I know!)

 

  • Place the tops back onto the vegetables and place them in baking tray. You can squeeze uncooked potato wedges in between vegetables
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over top
  • Bake in pre-heated 180 C (350 F) oven for approx. 1 hour. The skins should be nice and soft
  • Serve by drizzling juices from pan over vegetables
  • Ideally served with feta cheese

Kali Oreksi!