Vine Tomatoes and Bell Peppers Gemista

Seasonal recipe with Private Chef Christos

Gemista 

Gemista, pronounced: ye-meesta is another classic Greek vegetarian/ vegan dish enjoyed all year round but especially in the summer when tomatoes are in season and at their best. Gemista is juicy, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colours and flavours, it’s a perfect way to use all the ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergine and courgettes you might have sitting in your fridge.

Gemista is tomatoes or bell peppers filled with rice and herbs, baked with potatoes in a tomato sauce. The peeled potato wedges are put in the gaps between the tomatoes and peppers  and as the dish cooks the potatoes absorb all the flavours of the vegetables.

It is one of the most popular recipes in any Greek taverna and household in Greece and every region and cook will have their own version. You can experiment with the stuffing adding different herbs or minced beef or seafood or pine nuts and raisins. My preference has always been the vegetarian version.

Ingredients

  • 8 vine tomatoes
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 5–6 potatoes
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 500g Arborio rice
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • small bunch of fresh dill chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt and ground white pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
    • Wash the tomatoes and peppers.
    • For the peppers cut around the stem and empty the inside of the pepper. For the tomato cut around the base not the stem part and carefully remove the tomato flesh and place it in a blender (you will use later for the tomato sauce) reserve the lids.
    • Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges and keep them  in cool water.

Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray.

Try to leave the vegetables with as little flesh as possible, but be careful not to break through the skin.

Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a tsp of extra virgin oil on the bottom of each one.

Prepare the sauce for the gemista.

In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsp olive oil, the tomato paste, sugar, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.

Prepare the filling for the gemista.

In a saucepan add some olive oil and sauté the onions, until soft . Add the chopped garlic and sauté until softened.

(At this stage you can add chopped courgette, chopped aubergine or any other vegetables you want)

Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes translucent. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, 250 ml of water and season with salt and pepper. Let the filling come to a boil. After 5 minutes the stuffing is ready. It doesn’t need to cook throughout as it will continue cooking in the oven. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the fresh herbs  and season to taste.

Assemble the Gemista.

With the help of a tablespoon fill the vegetables to about 2/3rds of the way up as the filling will expand when cooking.  Add your potatoes, spreading them out in between the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Finally spoon the sauce inside the  tomatoes and peppers until full and pour the remaining in the baking tray. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 3 cups of water into your baking tray

Cover the Gemista with aluminium foil and bake in preheated oven at 180C   for 30 minutes then remove the aluminium foil and continue to cook for 30 – 60 minutes until the rice is cooked through.

If the tomatoes start bursting and the rice is not ready turn the temperature of your oven down and continue to cook with the foil on.

If you notice it getting dry, add a bit more water

To serve you will need a tangy feta , sourdough, Greek salad or some tzatziki enjoy!

Private Chef Christos 07858070125

privatechefchristos@gmail.com

All Articles