Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gemista - Stuffed tomatoes and peppers

Two days ago Stratis had a birthday and of course the plan was to go out with friends and have lots of drinks. But I thought it would be nice to have a good dinner at home before, just the two of us, as a part of his "special birthday treatment". So while Stratis was at his after-work squash game I kicked myself to the kitchen and prepared a lovely meal consisting of a huge salad, grilled vegetables with special marinade (recipe coming soon), Gemista and of course good Greek wine. For dessert I made an amazing Apple pie that I stole from (another "coming soon" post). So for now I'm posting the Gemista which were slightly different from what I usually cook but I think the change was for good :) Btw, Gemista is literally translated as "something stuffed".


5 large tomatoes
5 large red bell peppers
2 cups risotto rice (short-grained, kind of roundish)
2 onions, diced
2-3 handfuls black and white raisins
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and ground pepper to taste

1. Slice the tops from the tomatoes and the peppers and keep them aside. Remove the seeds from the peppers.
2. With a spoon remove the seeds from the tomatoes and place them in a food processor together with the sugar and tomato paste.
3. In a medium pot heat the oil and fry the onion until soft and lightly golden. Add the tomato mixture, raisins, pine nuts and rice. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook on low heat, adding water if necessary and stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom. Cook until the rice is almost cooked.
4. 2-3 minutes before the rice is ready add the parsley.
5. With a spoon stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling.
6. In a deep casserole dish place all the leftover filling and spread it over the bottom. Place the tomatoes and peppers on top of the rice, one next to the other close enough so that they stay vertically. Cover each vegetable with it's own top that you sliced off at the beginning.
7. Add 1 glass of water to the dish and bake the Gemista in the oven at 180oC and serve with some extra filling along with Greek yogurt and Feta cheese.

You could serve them as a main course or a starter, both hot or cold. Gemista are good in all the ways. Some people also add minced meet in the filling but I prefer raisins instead. If you wanna try them with minced meat you substitute 1/3 of the rice with the minced meet and remove the raisins.

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