gemista (stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and butternut squash)

My little cousin (OK, she's in her 20s, but I think of her as my baby cousin) Mariangella visited me this weekend, and it was a great opportunity to cook something that makes us embrace autumn (and it sure has arrived). What else but gemista. This recipe is an adaptation of my friend and colleague, Eleni Melirrytou, from Athens.

3 large ripe tomatoes
2 green bell peppers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 small butternut squashes
2 large potatoes, peeled, and cut into wedeges
1 cup of tomato passata
1 large slice of feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
tomato pulp from tomatoes
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp mint, chopped
salt and pepper

Wash and dry vegetables. Cut a slice off the top of tomatoes and peppers and scoop out the pulp (Eleni mentions that it's important not to thin the skin too much). Lightly salt the insides of the vegetables. For the butternut squash, remove skin before you cut in half (from top to the root), and scoop only the seeds/pulp in the bottom half of the squash. Lightly salt the squash as well. Keep the tomato pulp and place vegetables to the side.

Preheat oven to 185 degrees C. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a sauce pan, and saute onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, salt, and pepper and give it a good stir with a wooden spatula. After one minute, add the tomato pulp, and cook off for another minute. Remove from heat, and add parsley, mint, and 1/4 cup of oil. Give it a good stir again! In a large baking tray, arrange your vegetables upright. Fill the vegetables with the pulp/rice mixture 3/4 of the way (do not fill all the way to the top of the hollowed-vegetable) and fill each vegetable with just enough warm water to fill them (this will help to cook the rice). Replace the tops (except for the butternut squash of course).

Arrange the potatoes in between the gaps and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Pour the passata over the vegetables. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hours 30-40 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the tops of the vegetables start getting burnt (you want to get that deep dark brown/almost black colour, but there's a fine line for this).....and then use your discretion to remove towards the end. One note, about 40 minutes into it, check some of the tomatoes and peppers and make sure to add a little bit of more water (since it will have evaporated). Sprinkle some feta inside the vegetables (right on top of the rice mixture). Let the vegetables stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Ah, before I forget, Eleni loves to add 1/4 cup of pine nuts, and 1/3 cup of sultana raisins in the mixture along with the parsley and mint. We couldn't find any pine nuts, and I forgot the raisins. The addition of feta is my preference (not everyone adds it in Greece).

1 comment:

vincent said...


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