Giemista (or yemista) is a traditional Greek dish of stuffed tomatoes and green bell peppers that are baked in the oven. Depending on the season, you can sometimes find the round zucchini and prepare it just like the other vegetables. Eggplant also works as a great vegetable for this dish! There are countless versions of gemista around Greece and every household has its own recipe for it, whether they add ground beef, potato’s or other vegetables.
The gemista can be served either warm or cold, even straight out of the fridge and it is equally delicious – if not more.
Ingredients: Yield: 12 gemista / 4-6 main-course servings
- 6 large, ripe, juicy and firm beefsteak tomatoes
- 6 large green bell peppers
- If in season a few round zucchini and/or eggplant
- 1 Cup of Parthena Oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 long sweet red pepper, minced (optional) ½ small carrot, minced (optional)
- 1 Tbsp white Pearl rice per vegetable (ie. 6 green pepper =6 tbsp rice)
- 3 Tbsp fresh mint (or more)
- 3 Tbsp fresh parsley (or more)
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini (optional)
- 4-6 medium-sized potatoes (or more)
- Sea Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- small food processor ( hand one works )
- large enough baking pan to fit all the tomatoes and peppers ( deeper is better )
Preparation: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Celsius
- Rinse and drain the tomatoes and bell peppers. Cut off their tops (where the stem is), with a serrated knife (cut a thin slice, don’t cut too low) and make sure to keep the corresponding lid close by, so they don’t get mixed up.
- Remove the seeds and membranes from the bell peppers, rinse the insides and drain them. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides (most of the flesh, juices and all the seeds) of the tomatoes, being careful not to scoop too close to the skin, you need to leave a layer of flesh otherwise they’ll break open, and place everything in your food processor. Generally I like to scoop the tomatoes right over top of the food processor to keep as much of the liquid as I can.
- Process the insides of the tomatoes to a pulp. I like to add the insides of my Green peppers, onions, mint, parsley and if I have it on hand chopped zucchini.
- Empty the food processor into a large bowl and add the rice, oregano and salt and pepper to preference.
- Place the tomatoes and bell peppers (with lids on) inside the baking pan you’re using.
- Once your filling is ready, take each tomato and pepper that you have arranged in the baking pan and, using a spoon or hands, fill them up to approximately three-quarters, in order to allow the mixture to expand while cooking and to not overflow or break up the vegetable. Something that admittedly happens to me all the time. If you don’t mind a more messy/rustic presentation, don’t worry too much about it if that happens. Also, make sure to put the corresponding lid properly on each vegetable and try to stand the vegetables (particularly the peppers which tend to fall on their side) upright. Best way to do that, is have them lean over the sides of the tray or against each other.
- Add the potatoes (peeled & either wedged or in thick slices) in-between the tomatoes and peppers, this will also help them stand up straight, and pour over any extra filling. Then pour over a generous amount of olive oil and 300 ml of tap water to help cook. Add salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper and add a little oregano on top of each tomato and bell peppers!
- Place the baking pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the tomatoes and peppers soften and take on a brown color on top, and the potatoes are cooked. While baking, it’s a good idea to pour some of the cooking liquid from the pan over the vegetables from time to time, in order to keep the tops from drying up if you feel necessary.
- Take them out of the oven and allow them to slightly cool. Eat them warm or at room temperature, especially during the summer. Add a lot of sauce over the top and a couple of potatoes on each plate, and don’t forget the feta, the bread and the wine.
- You can keep the gemista in the fridge for a couple of days. Although I promise any left overs will be quickly eaten! Enjoy
- If I have eggplant and round zucchini I prepare them just as the peppers and tomatoes.
- Make sure you don’t cut the potatoes too thick otherwise they’ll take forever to cook.
- Pair the gemista with a bottle of dry red wine, like a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- The stuffing of the peppers always comes out a little dry because the peppers are not a juicy vegetable. That’s were the oil comes in; spoon a little on top and it will be beautifully succulent.
- I have made this recipe without access to a food processor. I chopped everything very thin and added a can of diced tomatoes to provide the liquid that the tomatoes in the food processor would, the liquid is needed to cook the rice. Although it works this way I much prefer using a food processor or a blender.