Gemista (pronounced as yeh-mee-STAH), are Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and herbs, baked with potatoes, in a tomato sauce.
Between the gaps of the vegetables we add potatoes which absorb all the wonderful flavours of the vegetables.
As potatoes need more time to bake, we must cut them into thin wedges about twice the size of potato chips.
Gemista are one of my favourite vegan dishes as it is a combination of so many tastes and aromas.
Tomatoes are emptied and stuffed with the rice mixture.
Other vegetables (such as green or coloured bell peppers, eggplants, zucchini, or even onions) can also be stuffed.
Rice with herbs like parsley and mint, as well as kafkalithres (Tordylium Apulum) – Mediterranean hartwort and myronia – chervil, as well as onions or spring onions (when in season), together with Greek extra virgin olive oil are mingled in our palate.
Gemista, means “filled” or “stuffed” and the filling is usually with rice and herbs.
It can be a meat based one, usually with minced pork or beef or with sausage, but the vegan dish, with only rice and herbs, is more popular.
The traditional rice used is a Greek variety called Carolina, which is a starchy rice, similar to arborio.
This is a summer dish falls under the category ladera or “oily” food, since it is an olive oil based dish.
This is a perfect summer dish as the tomatoes are ripe and as they are a light food they can be consumed during hot Mediterranean temperatures, as a slightly hot or cold dish.
I really don’t mind baking during summer and if it’s unbearably hot, I prepare them in the evening and bake them early in the morning or just have the air-conditioning on.
Adding raisins in the rice is optional but it is something I love, as it gives a hint of sweetness to the rice and balances the tartness of the tomatoes.
My newest addition are goji berries (Lycium Chinese), making the dish even healthier.
Although there are tomatoes year round, now with the green houses, I seldom make them during winter, except maybe during Lent when we need to eat a variety of vegan dishes.
I like adding potato wedges between the gaps, but make sure that the potatoes are thin, otherwise it will take more time than is necessary to cook the “gemista”.
If you want your wedges thicker, you can cover the baking tin with aluminium foil and cook for one hour. Then remove the foil and cook until the potatoes are roasted.
They absorb so much flavour from the tomatoes which makes them irresistible.
The flavour of good quality Greek extra virgin olive oil and all the sweet juices from the fresh ripe tomatoes and raisins. make a delicious sauce which should be mopped off the plate with fresh hot bread 🙂
Unfortunately, as I am on aa diet, this is something I now have to avoid but everything in moderation is allowed!
I am sending this recipe to Yasmeen of Health Nut, for her event Well Balanced 3 Course Meals. I have already posted the starter, Fetatziki and the Apricot Meringue Dessert. In this picture the dessert is mpezes (meringue) with yoghurt mixed with whipped cream and Cherry Spoon Sweet.
You can find more “nistisimes syntages” (Lenten Recipes), most of which are vegan.
- 6 large tomatoes
- 6 large bell peppers
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 350 grams non aromatic, starchy Carolina rice, similar to arborio (or 1 1/2 heaped tbsp for each vegetable)
- 1 cup white dry wine (about 200 ml)
- 1 organic vegetable bouillon
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- Freshly grated black pepper
- 3 tbsp dried mint
- 2 tbsp raisins (or goji berries, optional)
- 2 cups tomato pulp, puréed (divided)
- ½ cup parsley, finely copped
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 3 large potatoes cut into thin wedges (about 8 pieces)
- Salt, pepper, oregano
- 1 cup water
- Wash the tomatoes and peppers and put them in a large baking tin.
- Slice off the side of the green peppers, cut around the seeds, which remove, as well any veins.
- Cut a horizontal slice off the top or bottom side of the tomato. Use a knife to cut off the larger chunks of their flesh and finish by using a teaspoon to scoop out the tomato flesh. Put it in a food processor and then purée.
- Put them in a large baking pan and season the interior with salt.
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté it for a few seconds. Add the rice (about 1 1/2 heaped tablespoons for each vegetable) and mix until it is wet. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates.
- Crush the bouillon with your fingers and add it to the rice, together with the mint, raisins, salt, pepper and oregano and mix.
- Add half of the puréed tomato and simmer for five minutes or until the juices are absorbed. Mix in the parsley and set aside to cool.
- Fill the tomatoes and peppers with this mixture, but make sure not to over-stuff them, as the rice will expand while cooking and will break your veggies.
- Cut the potatoes in the middle and then into thin wedges and sprinkle some salt, pepper and oregano and toss to coat them well. Add them between the vegetables.
- Cover the vegetables with their lids and add the remaining olive oil, the remaining blended tomatoes and enough water, to cover the potato wedges by half.
- Preheat the oven to180o C or 160o C, if fan forced, and bake for about 45 minutes.
- Turn the potatoes on the other side and baste the vegetables at least once, in order to keep them moist on the top. Bake for another half an hour or until the potatoes are golden on top.
- Serve them either warm or at room temperature but they are also great the next day.
- Pair them with some feta cheese or a Greek Salad and enjoy!
If, for any reason, the potatoes stick to the baking pan, add some water, turn off the oven and wait for ten minutes before serving.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 345Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 0mgSodium 700mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 5gSugar 8gProtein 5g
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,