A few months back, I cooked Gemista for this blog. A summery dish, gemista seem to make cameo appearances on our menu over and over and over again, being so fresh and cool and wholesome and, well, awesome (someone watches a lot of “Supernatural” now).
So, one of those many many times that I made them, I decided to shoot one more video and post it, where else? Here!
Now, a few clarifications: I had no spearmint, so I didn’t use any. Many people use many herbs in gemista, and that’s the right thing to do. Herbs give gemista that special fulfilling smell and taste that make them an all time favorite and make us come back to them, again, and again.
Also, remember that you can stuff other vegetables too, like eggplants or zucchini, or those round zucchinis that are so pretty! Whatever you stuff, add its insides to your mix. The more the better!
The only reason I didn’t use the inside of the pepper, is that I’m not a huge fan of peppers. But you can absolutely use it, in fact it is advisable!
Uhm… That’s pretty much it! The rest you can see or read!
Oh, as you can see in the end of the video there, have some feta or greek yoghurt on the side of gemista. It. Is. Heaven. On. Earth!
For your convenience, I will copy the recipe exactly as it was in the other post, here. I’ll leave the comments there, though, just for the fun of it 😉
The video is at the end of the post.
What you will need
5 large (not huge, but large) bell peppers (I always use green ones, of course you can use other colors, but my grandma always used green ones, and so do I. It is a matter of memory!)
5 large tomatoes (not huge, but absolutely not small ones)
1 verrrry full Tb shortgrain rice for each pepper or tomato, plus 3 more (that makes… uhmmmm *calculates* 13 Tb of rice. OK, add 14, 13 is an unlucky number!)
Some tomato passata
oil (I use olive oil for cooking, unless it is for frying)
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped (or a little less if you don’t love it, but remember that herbs are the essence of gemista!)
2-3 leaves of fresh spearmint, chopped (or if you absolutely love it, use more, it’s up to you)
What you will be doing:
Preheat your oven at 200 degrees Celsius (or higher, depending on your own oven). Now, start with the tomatoes. Cut the tops off, but not all the way, so that you will make a nice pouch with a cap. If it gets cut off, don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal! Use a teaspoon and empty the inside of the tomato. Don’t throw it away, we will be using that! Do that with all the tomatoes, place the insides in a food processor and whizz it, until you have a thick tomato paste. Open up the peppers in the same way and clean them from the seeds (which we will not need, throw them away).
Chop up the onions and saute them in some oil. Add some of the tomato paste (keep enough to pour over the pan in the end) and some passata. I don’t use a lot, just to give your stuffing a nice coolness, but, again, it’s up to you. Still, don’t make it too watery. Where were we? Oh, yes. Add some tomato paste and passata and heat it through. Add the rice (1 Tb for each vegetable, plus 3-4), add the herbs, season with salt and pepper and let it boil a little bit – not long, you don’t want to cook it, just a couple of minutes, to allow the tastes to blend.
You are now ready to stuff! Take the pepper – or tomato – in one hand, open it up and stuff it with the rice mixture. I usually don’t fill them all the way to the top, but my mom does. The rice comes out and makes a roasted crust and it is amazing. Why don’t I do it? I’m weird. Sometimes I do. You pick where you will stop, but make sure you are close to the top – we don’t want people to think we are poor and have no rice to stuff our peppers, right?
Arrange them in your pan and if you have any rice mixture left, don’t be afraid to put it around the peppers. Cut the potatoes in thick sticks and place them between peppers/tomatoes. Pour the tomato paste over your gemista, pour some oil over them (in the old days, when we didn’t care about calories – or money! – we used to use a lot of oil to «bathe» the gemista. This is not important. Use some oil, but don’t overdo it. Half a ladle is more than enough), and place them in the oven.
Believe it or not, you are done! That wasn’t so hard, was it! Bake them for about an hour. They are ready when they are nice and wrinkled and have developed a slight black burn on top. This is why I always put the caps on top, so that I won’t «lose» any of the vegetable to the burn!
Enjoy them with some feta and fresh hot bread. And of course with the ones you love. Food is only meant to be enjoyed that way!