Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers or Gemista
By Christina Rocha
Gemista or stuffed vegetables are true Greek summer vegetarian fare. Traditionally we don’t eat this dish piping hot and sometimes tourists find this a bit strange! If you do like them piping hot why not add yogurt on the side plus of course a delicious Greek salad with chunks of tomato, cucumber, onion, olives and a slab of flaky feta cheese on top sprinkled with oregano. Kali Orexi i.e. Good Appetite!
One portion with one tomato and one pepper is approximately 420 calories and takes about 60 minutes to prepare.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 6 firm ripe tomatoes
- 6 large green bell peppers
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 12 spoonfuls of rice
- 1 cup of tomato juice
- 1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups of olive oil
- Salt, pepper and spices to taste
- Wash the vegetables, slice the tops off, and save them to the side.
- With a spoon gently empty the tomato of all the pulp taking care not to puncture the skin. Remove the seeds from the pulp and throw them away. Scrape all of the seeds out of the peppers and place the veggies in a baking tray.
- Sauté the onions in olive oil and before they have softened completely add the rice and cook till transparent. Chop up the pulp of the tomatoes and a third of the juice and pour into the rice. Add salt and pepper and spices to taste and the finely chopped parsley plus approx half a cup of water. Allow the ingredients to cook until most of the water has been absorbed.
- Half fill each of the tomatoes and peppers with the rice mixture – the extra room is to allow for the swelling of the rice. A Greek housewife would put a small spoonful of sugar at the base of each vegetable but this is optional.
- Add one spoonful of water and an optional teaspoon of sugar and close with the lids you have set aside. Pour the tomato juice into the baking tin with half a cup of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 50 mins at 350° F or 180° C.
Variation: If you wish, you can add potatoes sliced lengthwise to the baking dish, placed between each tomato and pepper. Zucchinis and eggplants can be stuffed using exactly the same method.