Stuffed vegetables with rice and herbs
There are many different recipes for ‘Gemista’, each one depends on the location of its origin. In some areas of Greece, they add ground zucchini and bell pepper into the filling, whereas in other cities, they mix raisins or pine nuts into the filling. The most traditional Gemista is usually the stuffing of horn or bell peppers and tomatoes, but in some areas, they also use eggplant and zucchini.
This recipe comes from North Greece where my grandmother began teaching me to cook. The pictures were taken whilst we cooked Gemista together in my home village. Enjoy!
For 12 vegetables:
6 Tomatoes (large in size)
6 Bell peppers (large in size)
1 large white onion, finely diced or grated
½ garlic clove, grated
15 tbsp of Karolina rice (Approximately 1-2 spoons of rice per vegetables depends on the size of the vegetables)
½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup of fresh mint, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180-200°C
Slice the top of the tomatoes/pepper off very carefully (keeping the top part as this will form a “lid” later)
Remove and clean the inside of the pepper so it is completely empty.
Remove the inside of the tomatoes and set aside as we will use them to make our tomato sauce later.
1. In a pan sweat:
1 large white onion, finely chopped/grated
½ clove garlic, grated
2. Blend the insides of the fresh tomatoes that you kept from earlier and add to the pan. Simmer for 5-6 mins
3. Add the RAW rice to the pan (For 12 vegetables use 15 tbsp of rice) (Do not cook the rice!). Consider that if the vegetables are big you need 1,5-2 spoonful for each. If they are small you need less than 1,5 spoonful each.
4. Add 200ml of tomato sauce, ½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped and ½ cup of fresh mint, chopped. Combine well
5. Place your vegetables into a large baking tray so they sit upright. Fill each vegetable to the top with the rice mixture (careful not to press the mixture down; the contents should be slightly loose so the rice has space to grow). Put the “lids” of the vegetables back on and drizzle all of them with a generous amount of olive oil. Before the oven add 150 ml of water into the tray with the vegetables.
6. Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for approximately 45-60mins. Remove from the oven after 30′ and turn the vegetable up site down one by one.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve with feta cheese or a spoonful of Greek yogurt.
by Anna Tzogia
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