Gemista / stuffed vegetables with rice

Gemista is the ultimate summer Greek dish! The most important thing in this recipe is the TOMATO. It’s the reason why i cook this dish only in the summer when the tomatoes are red and juicy.

Ingredients

  • 6 big, very red and juicy tomatoes
  • 3 big fresh green peppers
  • 1 large dried onion chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • at least 1 cup extra virgin olive oil for the rice + 1/2 cup on top
  • 1/4 cup risotto rice (Carolina or Arborio) per tomato/pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • optional: 1/2 cup fresh mint (i don’t use it but it is popular!)
  • optional: 1 tbsp small black raisins, 2 tbsps pine nuts (well, my origins from Constantinople require this!)
  • 2 potatoes cut in 4
  • salt/pepper

Instructions

  • First, pick fresh tomatoes and green peppers. Their shape must be considered because they have to stand in the pan.
  • With a sharp knife make ‘lids’ and remove the inside of the tomatoes with a tablespoon. Keep it and put it in a blender.
  • Remove the seeds from the peppers.
  • Place the vegetables in the pan and salt them inside.
  • Saute in the oil the onion with the rice for a minute, add the tomato puree with all the other ingredients and stir for 1-2 minutes in low heat.
  • Fill the veggies with the rice, at 3/4 and cover with their ‘lids’.
  • Add the potatoes and season them.
  • Pour the rest of the olive oil everywhere.
  • Cook in 180C (356F) air for 1.5 hour.

So, there are thousands of recipes for Greek gemista, these are my tips!

  • You can also fill aubergines, zucchinis, onions, zucchini flowers and vine leaves (the last two are my favorite but i personally prefer them cooked in bit different way)
  • You should not use canned tomatoes or paste, the success of the recipe is the flavor of the fresh good tomatoes… The tomatoes you choose for this recipe should be red (not greenish or yellowish), juicy but not rotten (if they are very soft it will be difficult to handle).
  • My family’s favorite part of the dish is the remaining rice that i add in the pan…it gets slightly brown and has all the flavor!
  • I never use the rule: don’t fill up the veggies with the rice as it will puff, actually i want that puff because the rice on top gets crispy and we love it!
  • I never cover them because i want the veggies roasted not ‘boiled’.
  • Never add water, the juice of the tomatoes will cook the rice.
  • Always serve with feta cheese.

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