Gemista (pronounced: Yemista)

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Since Sunday was Greek Easter, my mom and I cooked the entire weekend for a big, fun, family gathering. My cousins from France, very close friends, boyfriend, parents and brother all spent the day together and we had such a great time. A big part of Greekster is the food. The food is so unbelievable! My yiayia (grandmother) lives in Greece so it’s tough for the entire family to get together but I always love making her classic recipes.

One of my all time favorite dishes is Gemista (pronounced: Yemista) which is a Greek staple dish. It’s essentially vegetables stuffed with homemade rice and minced meat. Honestly, the recipe takes a good amount of time from the preparation to the finale, but hey all good things take time! Here, I wanted to share my very secret yiayia’s Gemista recipe – take a peak!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 3/4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 500gr of rice (uncle Ben)
  • Small bunch of chopped parsely
  • Small bunch of fresh mint choppped
  • Pomi tomato pure about 14oz
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oregano
  • 250 gr ground beef

Instructions: 

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes; using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be used for the base of the tomato sauce for the Gemista.
  2. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will also use them later for the filling of the Gemista.
  3. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little of the flesh, but be careful not to poke through the skin.
  4. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
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  5. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato pure, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.
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  7. Add 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions . 
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  8. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, add choppped parsley and min. Chop the zucchini flesh in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped)  until softened.
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  9. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent.
  10. Pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the tomotoe flesh sauce and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.  Note: the rice is not totally cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven when. Remove the pan from the stove.
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  11. Spoon the rice and minced meat filling inside the empty vegetables and pour some olive oil and if any tomatoes sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray.
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  12. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water around the vegetables.
  13. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

Prep Time: 45 -55 min

Cook Time: 60-75 min

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