Gemista or yemista means “stuffed” in Greek. This traditional dish falls under the category of Greek dishes called “lathera,” meaning “cooked with oil”. As most Greek recipes, gemista require simple technique but demand high quality ingredients.
Gemista is one of the most well known Greek comfort foods. Personally I enjoy them served cold with feta cheese and a slice of rustic bread. Most Mediterranean cuisines have their version for gemista (the French call them “legumes farcis”), but I find the Greek recipe to be the most wholesome and flavorful.
To make this easy recipe for gemista, pick your favorite vegetables: tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini etc. When stuffing the tomatoes, remember to fill 3/4 of the vegetable: the rice absorbs all the flavors of all the other ingredients and it expands during the cooking time. Also, remember to use plenty of olive oil, unless you want to end up with stiff gemista. Last but not least, this recipe for gemista is vegan!
Gemista Recipe (Greek Stuffed Vegetables)
- 2 ripe and firm tomatoes
- 3 bell peppers
- 12 tbsp. short grain rice
- 1 dried onions finely chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 small bunch of parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 potato cut in wedges
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- To prepare this delicious Greek stuffed vegetables recipe, start by slicing off the top of the tomatoes; using a scoop remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be the base for the tomato sauce for the gemista. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to just a little of the flesh, but be careful keep their skin intact. Season the empty tomatoes with a pinch of salt and flip them upside down on the baking tray.
Prepare the sauce for the Gemista:
- In a sauté pan heat 2 tbsps olive oil. Add the onion with the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flesh of the tomatoes, the tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper and mix. Add the rice and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
Assemble the Gemista:
- spoon the filling inside the empty vegetables and place the potatoes, cut into pieces, in between the vegetables, inside the baking tray. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add the water.
- Bake the gemista in preheated oven at 350oF / 180oC for an hour.
- Gemista are best served cold with feta cheese and bread.