This is a traditional recipe for stuffed vegetables. Mostly a summer dish, this Gemista is healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and low in fat.

This dish requires some skill and a bit of time just because you have to empty the vegetables. I know what you’re thinking… Why not use only peppers and save yourself all the trouble? Well… you can, but I think that all the magic happens inside the pan while baking, when all the flavours from the different vegetables get mixed, so ultimately everything tastes a lot better! My rule is to use equal numbers of sweet peppers and tomatoes, and one or two eggplants or zucchinis. Try to pick large vegetables, all of them being about the same size so that everything bakes at the same time and you can portion each serving better.

Greek stuffed vegetables are not just vegetables stuffed with rice. This would not be interesting at all! The traditional recipe uses a lot of green herbs, spices, the juice from the tomatoes, and the flesh from the emptied vegetables to create a very flavourful, fresh and light dish. In most cases, though not by everybody, some raisins and roasted pine nuts are also used. If you have some, use them since they add extra depth and richness to the dish.

  • Prep Time:1 hr 15 mins
  • Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
  • Total Time2 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 10 large vegetables (4 tomatoes, 3 sweet green peppers, 2 sweet red peppers, 1 eggplant)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cup raisins, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup up roasted pine nuts
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried spearmint or mint (or 4 tablespoons fresh)
  • 2-3 teaspoons fine salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Freshly grated pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 20 tablespoons (2 per vegetable) long grain rice
  • Extra olive oil for the pan (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • About two potatoes cut in small wedges

Instructions

  1. Prepare the vegetables: After choosing your vegetables, find a pan that perfectly fits them. For the vegetables in the pictures, I used a 12 inch in diameter round pan. Rinse all the vegetables, cut off a slice from the top and empty them out using a small spoon or a melon baller. Keep in mind which lid goes to which vegetable.
  2. Finely chop or process in a food processor the insides from the peppers (the white stuff without the seeds), the inside of the eggplant, the carrot, and the onions and reserve into a bowl. Process the insides of the tomatoes and reserve into another bowl.
  3. Make the filling: Put the olive oil in a large pan and heat over medium/high heat. Add the onions, carrot, eggplant and pepper flesh and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add the rice, the wine, and the water and cook until almost all the liquids are absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the pureed tomatoes, the raisins, the pine nuts,the parsley, the mint, salt and pepper to taste, the cumin, and the sugar. Stir to combine.
  4. Preheat your oven to 410°F (210°C).
  5. Make the Gemista: Fill the vegetables with the filling, leaving one inch from the top, because the rice is going to puff up. Cover with the lids, fill the gaps with the potato wedges, and fill the pan with water, about 1 inch high. Drizzle with some extra olive oil and sprinkle some more salt over the potatoes.
  6. Bake: Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover with foil if you notice that the vegetables brown too much on the top. Let them rest for 20 minutes and serve with feta cheese.
  7. Eat!

Recipe Notes

  • Medium sized vegetables work best for this recipe because the rice is cooked more evenly.
  • Gemista are best served warm or at room temperature. Feta cheese is always on the side!
  • Since this recipe requires some effort, I usually make enough servings for at least 2 days

Originally published in thehungrybites.com

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