This week, we share with you a taste of Eastern Mediterranean food all the way from Greece – Greek Stuffed Vegetables (Gemista). This a delicious vegetarian recipe that you have to try.
Short Intro about Mediterranean Cuisine
Mediterranean food is incredibly diverse and it goes as far back as Ancient Egypt. However, the common use of the term “Mediterranean diet” is not the same as Mediterranean cuisine. In fact, the latter includes diverse Mediterranean cuisines that differ between East (Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Egypt), South Europe (Italy, Southern France, and Spain) and North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya).
All together, these 3 distinct regions offer a common foundation for the Mediterranean cuisine. At the same time, they also have their own specific and unique Mediterranean flavours. For eg. in the East, people usually use yogurts and cheeses to cook their foods, spices such as parsley, mint, and lemon juice, nuts, rice, chickpeas, pitas and meat kabobs; on the other hand, in the South wine is mostly used in cooking and consumed at almost every meal. Also, tomatoes, garlic and pine nut are used frequently in combination with several types of grains in breads and pasta.
Greek Stuffed Vegetables (Gemista)
- 4 tomatoes
- 4 bell peppers ( yellow, red)
- (2 of each) Green peppers or aubergines or zucchini or big mushrooms
- 2 potatoes
- 2 onions
- 3 to 5 fresh onions
- pinch of salt & pepper
- a bit of sweet paprika
- a bit of oregano
- some mint leaves
- some parsley leaves
- 1 tomato sauce can (because of living in Ireland, I know that tomatoes available in the market are not as juicy as in the South, so I definitely recommend adding the tomato sauce can as an alternative)
- 2 clove(s) of garlic
- 1 tablespoon(s) tomato paste
- 350 g glutinous rice
- 1teaspoon of granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 180*C (350*F) Fan.
For the vegetables
- Wash and scrub the potatoes, cut them into wedges, Spread them in a baking tray
- Slice off the top of the vegetables; cutting about 1 mm under the stem (peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines or mushrooms)
- Scoop out most of the inner layers leaving about 3-4 outer layers intact, creating a sturdy shell.
- Finely chop all of the inner layers you removed and put them in a bowl. Set aside until needed. Throw away the inner part of the peppers.
For the filling
- Place a pan over high heat and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Chop the onions, add them and sauté.
- Thinly slice the garlic and add it to the pan. Sauté.
- Take out and add the inner part of zucchini, aubergines and mushrooms, if you used these vegetables.
- Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. After, mix and sauté until the vegetables caramelize nicely.
- Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- Add the rice and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until it becomes a light golden colour.
- Sautéing the rice “seals” it, so it doesn’t let it get mushy when cooking.
- Add the tomato sauce and paste and sauté.
- Add the 400 ml of water and the reserved tomato flesh.
Tip! Add some lemon juice and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir and remove from heat. The rest of the cooking will take place in the oven.
- Finely chop the parsley, dill and mint leaves and add them to the pan. Stir.
- With a spoon add the filling to the vegetables. Fill them ¾ of the way because the rice will expand while cooking.
- Spread any of the leftover filling over the potatoes to add even more flavor.
- Add the 200 ml of water to the tray and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for around 60 minutes to 180*C (350*F), until the rice is well cooked.
This dish goes very well with a greek salad and a cold lager beer.
Good luck and Enjoy!