Yemista (or Gemista) is a Greek word meaning “to be stuffed with.” You may have grown up just calling it stuffed tomatoes or peppers, or zucchini. Many chefs and amateur cooks have created their own take on this traditional Greek dish, finding that most of the variety will come from the filling.
Yemista is typically served by hollowing out vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and sometimes potatoes, and then filled rice, herbs, cheese, and ground meats. This is a dish you can let your imagination run wild with, creating stuffing flavors of your choosing to fill your favorite vegetables.
I have two versions of yemista: this classic recipe made with rice and herbs, and another that combines cheese and sour Trahana (a Greek pasta made of wheat flour kneaded with milk that you can find in Greek specialty markets or by ordering online). It’s a tasty dish however you choose to prepare it. Plus, your guests are guaranteed to leave both satisfied and…stuffed.
- 5 large ripe tomatoes
- 5 large bell peppers (green or yellow)
- 2 zucchinis or potatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 cup of uncooked rice*
- ¾ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash the tomatoes and peppers and cut off the tops of each vegetable (about 1 cm thick slice) and save the tops. Scoop out the pulp from each vegetable, and just reserve the tomato pulp into a bowl.
- Pack the vegetables tightly in a baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, add the rice, onions, garlic, parsley, mint, oregano and season with salt and pepper. With the tomato flesh, blend or grate until finely diced and add to the rice mixture. Add half of the olive oil and mix the filling together.
- Stuff the filling into the vegetables, leaving about a quarter of the way empty as the filling will expand. Cover vegetables with their lids.
- Place the potatoes in between the tomatoes and peppers to hold the vegetables in place while cooking (plus you’ll get baked potatoes to eat). Pour the remaining olive oil and a cup of water over all of the vegetables.
- Bake for 90 minutes-2 hours, until vegetables have softened.
- Let cool before serving.