Stuffed Vegetables with Rice - Greek Gemista
This Greek stuffed vegetables called gemista is the absolute treat for the palate and a feast for all senses. So homey, so Mediterranean!
- 10 medium-sized tomatoes, firm and ripe
- 5 medium-sized bell peppers
- 1 eggplant
- 5 medium-sized russet potatoes or Yukon Gold, cut into wedges
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ cups fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 cups fresh spearmint, chopped
- 1½cups (280g) long-grain rice, white or brown*
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for the stuffing mixture
- 16 teaspoons olive oil over the vegetables
- 1 cup feta crumbles
- 1 medium fresh tomato, chopped or ¾ cup (180g) tomato passata
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
PREPARE THE VEGETABLES
Wash and dry well. Place them in a baking tray along with potato wedges. The size of the pan depends on the size of the vegetables. They should be packed closely but not squashed.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C).
Use a knife to cut the tops off the tomatoes and create lids. Keep the tops aside.* Use a paring knife and go around the tomato to loosen the flesh. Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out the tomato flesh and seeds. Reserve them in a medium-sized bowl.
Use a knife to cut the tops off the peppers and create lids. Use your hands to clean carefully the pepper seeds and discard them.
Cut the eggplant (or/and zucchini if used) lengthways (create lids and keep the top) and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Save the eggplant flesh (or/and zucchini) on the bowl with the tomato flesh and seeds.
Season with salt and pepper the interior of all vegetables. Place all vegetables back to the baking tray. Place tomatoes, eggplant (and zucchini if used) upside down to disregard excessive water.
PREPARE THE STUFFING MIXTURE
Chop roughly the tomato-eggplant flesh into the bowl. Drain well the rice. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl: onion, garlic, spearmint, parsley, rice, olive oil, pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Toss well with a spoon.
Place all vegetables upright and spoon the stuffing mixture into the empty vegetable shells. Fill no more than ¾ from the top because the rice will expand while baking.
Sprinkle feta cheese crumbles and drizzle about 1 teaspoon olive oil over each vegetable. Cover with their lids.
Add the additional chopped tomato (or tomato passata) to leftover mixture (if any) and sprinkle it all around the baking tray. Highly recommended to add tomato instead of water.
Spread potato wedges between the vegetables and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle more olive oil if desired.
Cover with foil and bake at 375°F (180°C) for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked (check the rice before you turn off the heat). Add a little bit of water if there is absolutely no liquid in the baking tray.
Remove from the oven and set aside for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.*
You may speed up cooking time for brown rice. Rinse and soak it in hot water for half an hour.
You may leave the tops connected to the vegetables so you don’t search for the right match later (optional).
During hot, summer days I take leftovers out of the fridge, leave it at room temperature for 2-3 hours, and serve it. Absolutely delicious the following day(s).