Gemista – Greek Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers

Featured in Series three, episode four, this is a traditional Greek recipe, full of favour – especially in the summer when tomatoes are in season!

Normally, Gemista is vegetarian, filled with rice, chopped vegetables and baked in a tomato based sauce. But some prefer it with minced meat as part of the filling. Below is the traditional recipe by chef Kyriako, but you can experiment and and your own fillings.

Ingredients

For the vegetables:

8 tomatoes 

4 green bell peppers (or other vegetables such as aubergines and courgettes)

2-3 potatoes cut in wedges 

1 tablespoon granulated sugar 

salt and pepper 

For the filling:

400g rice (carolina or for risotto) 

100 ml olive oil 

2 large onions 

1 bunch parsley 

1 bunch fresh onions 

A bit of fresh peppermint (diosmo, spearmint)

The flesh of 3 aubergines finely chopped (not mashed)

The flesh of the tomatoes we will use

100g pine nuts

To assemble:

200 ml olive oil 

Method

For the vegetables:

Slice off the top of tomatoes and the bell peppers and keep the sliced pieces.

Scoop out most of the flesh of the tomatoes leaving a few inches of the flesh intact to create a sturdy shell that will hold the filling. Keep the tomato flesh aside in a bowl for later.

Remove any flesh and seeds of the bell peppers.

Place the vegetables in the baking dish with the potato wedges, season with salt and pepper, and the tomatoes and a touch of sugar for the tomatoes.

Scoop out most of the flesh of the 3 aubergines; finely chop the inner layers you removed and put them in a bowl. You can use the aubergines for filling just make sure you do not scoop all the flesh and leave a sturdy shell.

For the filling:

Blend or finely chop the tomato flesh, the parsley and the peppermint but don’t mash.

Place a big pan over high heat and add your chopped onion and aubergine flesh and sauté with a little bit of olive oil. 

Add the rice and sauté for 3 minutes, until it turns light golden.

Add the tomato and a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper, since the rice needs a good amount of seasoning and let it simmer for 4 minutes.

Add the pine nuts and remove from heat. The rest of the cooking will take place in the oven.

Use a spoon to add the filling in the vegetables. Fill them ¾ of the way because the rice will expand while cooking. Cover them with their top.

Drizzle the vegetables with a generous amount of olive oil (200ml) and place in the oven. Add any of the leftover filling in foil and let it bake in the pan.

Cover the baking dish with baking foil and aluminium foil and bake for 60’ in preheated oven at 200 *C Fan 

Remove foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Enjoy!