Gemista, also known as yemista, is a staple in Greek cuisine, offering a flavor explosion with every bite. This traditional dish consists of bell peppers and juicy tomatoes, stuffed with a blend of mouth-watering ingredients and baked to perfection in the oven. If you're feeling adventurous, try stuffing zucchinis or eggplants as well for a delicious twist.
Every family in Greece has their own unique spin on gemista, some adding ground beef, potatoes or additional veggies to the mix. With so many variations to choose from, it's no wonder this dish has been a beloved staple for generations.
Whether served warm straight from the oven or cold straight from the fridge, gemista is a delicious treat that never fails to impress. So why not try making it at home today and discover the magic of this timeless Greek classic.
12 gemista / 4-6 main-course servings
- 6 large, ripe, juicy and firm beefsteak tomatoes
- 6 large bell peppers, green or red
- If in season, a few round zucchini and/or eggplant
- 1 cup of Parthena Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large onion
- Optional: 1 long sweet red pepper, minced and ½ small carrot, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white fancy rice (1 tbsp per vegetable, i.e. 6 green pepper =6 tbsp rice)
- 3+ tbsp fresh chopped mint
- 3+ tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp Parthena Greek Mountain Oregano or more to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 4-6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- 300 ml water or broth
- Parthena Mediterannean Sea Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Small food processor, blender, or immersion blender
- Large, deep baking dish to fit all the tomatoes and peppers
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Rinse and drain the tomatoes and bell peppers. Cut off the tops near the stem with a serrated knife (cut a thin slice, don’t cut too low) and set the top aside to replace later.
- 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 as you need to leave a layer of flesh otherwise they’ll break open.
- Place the insides of the tomatoes into the food processor and process the insides of the tomatoes to a pulp. You can also add the insides/scraps of the green peppers (but not the stem!).
- Add onions, mint, and parsley and chopped zucchini to the food processor if using and process with the tomatoes.
- Empty the food processor into a large bowl and add the dry rice, Parthena Greek Mountain Oregano, and Parthena Mediterranean Sea Salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Grease the bottom of the baking dish with 1 tbsp Parthena Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and place the tomatoes and bell peppers (with lids on) inside the baking dish.
- Take your prepared filling and using a spoon or hands, fill each tomato and pepper up to approximately three-quarters full in order to allow the mixture to expand while cooking and not overflow or break up the vegetable. Replace each corresponding lid properly on each vegetable and try to stand the vegetables (particularly the peppers which tend to fall on their side) upright.
- 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 water. Add additional Parthena Mediterranean Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, and finally sprinkle a little oregano on top of each tomato and bell pepper.
- Place the baking pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour covered and uncovered up to another 30 mins or until the tomatoes and peppers soften and are gently browned on the top and the potatoes are fork-tender. While baking, it’s a good idea to baste the vegetables with some cooking liquid from time to time in order to keep the tops from drying up.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, especially during the summer. Add a lot of the pan drippings 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 up to three days, although it will be gobbled up much sooner!
- If using eggplant and/or round zucchini, prepare them just like the peppers and tomatoes.
- Make sure to not cut the potatoes too thick otherwise they’ll take a long time 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 where the oil comes in; spoon a little on top and it will remain moist and delicious.
- If you don’t have a food processor, you may chop everything very fine and add 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, a food processor, blender, or immersion blender is preferable.