Gemista, pronounced: ye-meesta is another classic Greek dish enjoyed all year round. It is a comforting, hearty dish in the winter and a perfect way to use all of the extra tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini flowers that are growing in the garden in the summer.
It’s one of my favorite dishes to make because you get your veggies, protein, and starch all in one meal! Serve it with a nice salad and some bread and you’re good to go! Also, it’s one of those dishes that taste even better the next day. Try it and see.
How to make Gemista
The word Gemista translates to “filled with” in Greek. There are many versions of this dish. Gemista are traditionally filled with a combination of ground meat, rice, and herbs. My mom also makes them with shrimp instead of the ground meat and I often make a vegetarian version of the stuffed peppers & tomatoes. Print that recipe right here.
To recreate the classic version just follow these tips and you will have a big tray of these delicious stuffed veggies to enjoy for days to come.
- Slice the tops off of the tomatoes and bell peppers. Save them they taste very delicious.
- Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard them. Carefully remove the tomato flesh and place it in a blender (this will be part of the sauce).
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges and keep them soaked in cool water.
- Feel free to stuff any veggies that you have in your garden or refrigerator: zucchini, zucchini flowers, eggplant, onions, etc…
- Make the filling and allow it to cool slightly. Make sure not to overcook the rice when making the filling. It will continue to cook while the vegetables are baking.
- Use your favorite herbs. I switch them up often depending on what I have on hand. Use any (or a combination) of the following: parsley, dried oregano, mint, basil, or dill.
Can the Gemista be made ahead?
Yes. Gemista actually taste better the next day (Straight out of the refrigerator😆). And even better the day after that. So, make sure to prepare a large batch so that you can have a meal waiting for you for days to come.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. I know that some people like to freeze the gemista but, I’ve never tried that. If you’ve done it please comment below and let us know how they turn out once they’re thawed.
To reheat leftovers, place them in a baking pan with about a cup of water and let them warm through in a preheated (350 °F, 180 °C) oven.
What to serve with Gemista:
Create the ultimate Greek Comfort food dinner by serving Rizogalo (Greek Rice Pudding) after dinner.
I hope that you and your family will enjoy this recipe. If you give it a try, let me know what you think in the comments section. Kali Orexi and I will be back here soon with another delicious recipe worth sharing. Filakia Polla, Dimitra
- 6 medium tomatoes
- 5 large bell peppers
- 4-6 potatoes, peeled and sliced into
- For the stuffing:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 medium onions, finely
- 3-4 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 (16 ounces) can tomatoes, pureed
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cups of water
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt (about 3 teaspoons)
- Black pepper, to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or basil
Preheat oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
Cut and save the tops of the tomatoes and bell peppers. Remove pulp from inside the tomatoes and reserve. Remove seeds from the bell peppers.
Make the stuffing:
Add the canned tomatoes and the tomato pulp into a blender and puree until smooth.
Cook onions in ¾ cup of olive oil until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and warm through for a few seconds.
Add ground beef and break it up while browning a bit. Add canned tomato puree, ¾ teaspoons salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook approximately 15 minutes.
Add rice, 2 cups of water, and a teaspoon of salt and cook for 6-8 minutes on medium-high heat. Do not overcook rice because it will continue to cook in the oven!) Remove from heat and add herbs. Mix well and allow to cool slightly.
Assemble the dish:
Sprinkle a little bit of sugar inside the tomatoes to cut the acidity.
Sprinkle some olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper over the potatoes.
Arrange the vegetables in a baking dish with the potatoes in between.
Fill the tomatoes and bell peppers with the beef and rice filling no more than ¾ full. The rice will expand more while cooking in the oven. Place the veggie tops overfilling.
Mix in ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ teaspoon dried oregano along with salt and pepper to the remaining tomato puree.
Pour the tomato sauce with seasoning over potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the tops of the tomatoes and bell peppers.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until the vegetables are nice and soft.
Remove foil covering and raise the temperature to 425 °F, 220 °C. Cook about 30-45 minutes more until the veggies get slightly charred on top and the potatoes are fork-tender.
Allow to cool before serving. These taste even better the next day! Enjoy!!
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