This Greek recipe is vegan and very delicious. You can use bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes or zucchini if you like all of those vegetables, or you can choose to just use one or two kinds. They all taste amazing, but red bell pepper have a bit of a sweet taste when baked, compared to eggplant. The tomatoes taste sweet and fresh.
Gemista/yemista (Γεμιστά) can be made with rice and herbs as the stuffing, but there also exist meat versions of the dish. The vegan recipe is very popular in Greece during faste (the Orthodox lent) where the Greeks don’t eat animals, animal products, fish, and olive oil (either leaving out oil or choosing oil that’s not made from olives).
- 3 medium sized tomatoes
- 3 peppers (yellow, green, red for an added colorful touch)
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 white onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 dL (0,8 cups) tomato sauce
- 2 dL (0,8 cups) water
- 3 dL (1,3 cups) rice
- A good handful of fresh mint, chopped
- A good handful of fresh basil, parsley and dill combined, chopped
- 0,75 dL (0,3 cups) olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- About 20 twists from a grinder of pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Put the oven on 180 °C convection (356 °F)
- Wash all vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant) thoroughly, and place them aside into a medium-sized baking dish. Explore which way you will fit them all when baking later.
- Slice off the ends of the eggplant (discard tops) in a way that will allow them to stand up in the baking dish. Carve the inside of the eggplant and put it into a bowl.
- Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and keep them aside for later. These will work as the lids for the Yemista. Carve out the inside but be careful to not carve too much of the inside or else the walls will become too thin. Place the insides of the tomatoes into a separate bowl.
- Slice off the tops of the peppers and keep them aside for later. Remove the insides and discard them.
- Put the baking pan with the vegetables in the oven for them to pre-cook for 10 minutes. Afterwards you take them out and set them aside to cool off.
- Put 1/4 dL (0,1 cup) of the olive oil on a pan and place chopped onions and minced garlic into the sauté pan. Sauté on medium heat.
- While sautéing, pre-cook the rice with a little salt for half the time stated on the package.
- In the meantime, chop the insides of the eggplant. Chop the insides of the tomatoes as well.
- Once the onions and garlic have sautéed enough, add the chopped eggplant to the pan.
- Remove the stems from the fresh herbs (basil, mint, dill and parsley), and chop. Set aside.
- Add the salt and around 20 twists from a pepper grinder to the sauté.
- Drain the rice in a fine strainer and add to the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil (½ dl). Mix everything well and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped fresh herbs, 1 dL of water (0,4 cups) and 1 dL tomato sauce, chili powder, and cinnamon to the pan. Continue to sauté all the ingredients together for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Begin filling all the vegetables equally but be careful to not overflow them too much. When finished, place the corresponding lids on the vegetables. Place a small piece of wax paper over top the eggplants to serve as a lid (the lids prevent the rice from getting crisp on the top).
- Add the other dL of tomato sauce combined with 1 dL water to the pan. Use a spoon to spread the mixture around the pan. Avoid getting any of this mixture on the vegetables. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan as well.
- Place the vegetables in the pre-heated oven (180 °C / 356 °F) and cook for about 40 minutes, or until vegetables become soft and brown on top.
Extra: The more basil/parsley or mint you add, the more flavorful the dish will become. It’s up to you. This dish is traditionally served with Greek style potatoes as well (just add them in the dish together with the vegetables with salt, pepper and oregano, and let them cook all together).
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