One of the most popular Greek dishes, in my opinion the best Greek vegan recipe, eaten mostly seasonally, in the summer, when colored vegetables are in their peek!! My mother freezes a lot of peppers during the summer this way she has them available all year round. It’s a dish that obviously takes time (you get better with practice), but let me tell you, it’s worth every second of it!! The word Gemista means stuffed, “gemizo” is the verb of the word and means “I am filling up…) This is the Islands version (this one from Crete) which is the vegan version. In the central-Northern part of Greece they add ground meat, but i personally prefer the vegan version because one can appreciate all the vegetable, spices and herb flavor combination, without the meat taking away from it! It is a dish that belongs to the “Ladera” dishes, which basically means ” (Heavily) Oil Based Foods”. The recipe written here is for 6 people, the one presented in the video is for 10 plus people, we are a big family!! Enjoy everyone!!
Mom’s Gemista Recipe (hands down, this is her signature dish)
VEGETABLES AND LEAVES TO BE STUFFED:
6 medium sized ripe tomatoes (hollowed; save flesh for grating, see video)
6 zucchini (and/or eggplant optional) (hollowed; save flesh for grating, see video)
6 peppers (any color)
Vine leaves as many as you want (they come in a jar at your local supermarket-international isle)
Swiss Chard leaves (blenched in hot water, for a few seconds to soften)
Part I, FILLING
4 Red Onions, grated
1 small bunch dill, finely chopped
1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
3 cups short grain rice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 1/2 cup more, to be added into the sliced potatoes, see video and for drizzling at the end, see video)
2 lemons, juice
1 Tb tomato paste
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne or chilli (or any hot pepper)
sea salt, to your taste
Part II, On top of stuffed veggies:
2 cups water
1 large potato, sliced
1 Tb tomato paste
1 lemon, juiced
salt, pepper and oregano to taste (oregano goes on the potatoes only, not in the stuffing; if you are not using potatoes just use the rest of the ingredients in part II without the oregano and pour liquid all over the stuffed vegetables).
Wash and cut the top of the tomatoes (or bottom, they sit better in the pan), creating a lid; keep lids for covering the stuffed tomatoes later. Use a rounded tsp to remove the flesh. Sprinkle a little tiny bit of sugar in the empty tomatoes, helps to hold its shape. Collect the flesh in a bowl.
Wash the peppers and do the same as the tomatoes, cut off a lid and in this case just remove the seeds. Set aside.
Wash the zucchinis (and eggplants if using) and using the rounded tsp scoop out as much flesh as you can. If the zucchinis are too long cut them in half and also cut some slices off to use for lids. Add the zucchini flesh in the bowl with the tomato flesh.
Grate the onions and all the vegetable flesh you just removed from them. Add the rest of the ingredients in part I and stir to combine. Fill up the hollowed veggies a little more than 3/4 full, also about a Tb of the filling in the leaves if using, roll them up as shown in the video. Continue stuffing vegetables/leaves until the filling is finished. Place them in a baking pan..
Peel and slice the potato(es) into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients including 1/4 cup of the oil and stir to dissolve the tomato paste. Place the potato slices all around the food especially on the filled leaves, keeps them from drying out too much, and finally pour the liquid all around. Drizzle the whole food in the pan with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and cook in a preheated 250 C oven for 1-1/2 hrs. You may need to add more water towards the end of cooking, if all water has evaporated, so it stays moist and juicy 🙂 Serve warm or cold, it’s equally delicious! Commonly served with Greek style yogurt, crusty bread and a Greek Village Salad!
Thank you for watching! “Kali Oreksi” , Bon Appetit in Greek 😉