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Yemista

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VIDEO - Stuffed tomatoes and peppers with rice and herbs

If you have been in Greece for holidays, this is probably a dish you came across in any traditional Greek tavern. Yemista is a celebration of Greek summer, when vegetables are at their prime, every household prepares this dish. It is normally stuffed tomatoes and peppers with rice and herbs, but you might also find stuffed onions and courgettes. There is also a variation with beef and pork mince. When it comes to Yemista, I like mine orphans (no meat) and this is how I make them.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Beef tomatoes
  • 5-6 mixed colored peppers (if in Greece, ask for peppers for Yemista, which are smaller and have a thinner flesh)
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Generous amount of parsley and mint (a large handful)
  • 250-300 grams of rice (I used Basmati)
  • 100 grams of Pasata
  • about 1 ltr of water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large potatoes sliced into small wedges

Execution

  1. We begin by slicing the top of the tomato and removing the inside of the tomato, which we will use for the sauce. Do the same for the peppers, but discard the seeds.
  2. In a deep frying pan, or medium heavy pot, add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and saute your onions which you have finely chopped. Then add the celery, the courgette, the carrot and the garlic. Allow all the vegetables to soften and then add the Pasata and the stuffing of the tomatoes which you have blended. Now add about a liter of hot water or vegetable stock, salt, pepper, oregano and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add in the rice  and the herbs and let it rest on the side for 10 minutes.
  3. Now we are ready to begin the stuffing. Salt the inside of the tomatoes and peppers and then add a generous amount of the stuffing.
  4. Once full, place it upside down on a large baking tray. We put it upside down in order for the rice to cook properly. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes and peppers. Once done, scatter around the potatoes and pour on top any left over stuffing. Top up with enough water to cover the potatoes. Make a couple of small holes on each vegetable to allow the steam to escape. Finally add salt, pepper and plenty of olive oil, about 6 tablespoons.
  5. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven at 180 Celsius for about 1 hour. Remove the foil and gently stir the potatoes. Cook for another 15 minutes without the foil. 
  6. Allow it cool down a bit before you serve
ENJOY

 

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