Greek Stuffed Vegetables - Gemista

Greek Stuffed Vegetables - Gemista

First of all, I want to mention that even though this Greek stuffed vegetables recipe is perfect for vegetarians, Gemista is also one of the few meals appreciated by meat lovers as well. There are many varieties of this recipe, each cook in Greece has their own formula and secret ingredient. Generally, it's made only with stuffed tomatoes or combined with bell pepper, courgette and aubergine. I've done some experimenting with the Greek stuffed vegetables recipe and I find the one below to be the tastiest, the most complex and suitable for any taste. The potatoes are just right, savory and soft, they come in perfectly with the veggies and even the fussy kids will like them.

The first time I had Gemista in a Greek tavern, the waiter said it was something like the Romanian sarmale and I was extremely disappointed to see a single tomato stuffed with rice on a plate! I was convinced there wasn't much to eat there, but, actually, I enjoyed the tomato to the last bit...The tomato sour taste is a perfect match for the flavourful rice cooked in plenty of olive oil. It was then when I realized the importance of mint flavour for food as well, not just for tea. Don't replace it, it's a must here.


5 pieces
pick big tasty tomatoes
Bell pepper
5 pieces
preferably, pick shorter bell peppers which are able to stand up straight in the pan
2 pieces
Short grain rice
14 tbsp
or any other rice
Yellow onion
1 piece
Garlic cloves
5 pieces
1 kg
Tomato paste
1 tbsp
Fresh parsley
1 piece
1 bunch
Dried mint leaves
1 tbsp
or 1 small bunch of fresh mint
1 tbsp
Extravirgin olive oil
1 cup
1 tsp

Step by step


First of all, pick the right vegetables, wash well and drain the water.


Use a knife and cut a circle around the stem end - don't make a big hole, we want the stuffing to be completely covered.


Now cut the top off the tomato, but not all the way - it should still be attached and won't come off.


With a teaspoon, gently scoop out the tomato flesh and reserve in a bowl in which we will prepare the stuffing. 

Do the same with the rest of the tomatoes, you can as well replace the bell peppers and use more tomatoes instead - everybody will want them :)


Cut the tops off the peppers, make sure they are intact and set aside. Scoop out the pepper seeds and discard.


Cut the upper part of the courgettes lenghtways.


And with a spoon carefully scoop out the flesh. 

The courgettes I used were long, so I cut them in halves and I basically had 4 pieces ready to be stuffed. 

You can also do it as in my Dolma Recipe, steps 5-6.


Now arrange all the vegetables on a deep ovenproof dish. Notice there is some space between them, use this picture to guide you, you'll see why later on.


Of course, we don't forget to peel and wash the potatoes :)


While preparing the vegetables, in a big bowl we saved the tomatoes and courgettes flesh and the tomato juice. 

If you are also using aubergines, add the flesh to the same bowl.


You can quickly chop them in the food processor, like I did, or use a knife - here you need to be patient but it's worth it. 

Make sure you don't puree the vegetables, they have to be chopped in very small pieces.


Tip rice into a bowl and wash thoroughly, rinsing 2-3 times. 

Usually, we count 1 tbsp rice for each vegetable. I had 14 vegetables in the baking sheet pan, so I counted 14 tbsp rice. 

But if the peppers are bigger, you'll be needing some more rice - so add 2-3 extra tbsp.


Tip the finely chopped onions and parsley into the bowl with the tomato and courgette flesh. Add in rice, crushed garlic, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp mint, 1 tbsp tomato paste and half a glass olive oil.


Mix everything well and notice it's a bit watery, that's the way it should be.


Spoon the rice mixture into the vegetables, filling only half.


Carefully arrange on the baking sheet pan and place the lids on the vegetables. Notice how the peppers are standing, so that the stuffing won't drain.


Scatter the quartered potatoes among the vegetables. They will play a double role - of course, they will be delicious, but they will also prevent the veggies from moving or falling over in the pan. The potato slices will keep everything in one spot and the stuffing will become less soggy.


Over all the veggies and the potatoes, drizzle with the remaining half of cup of olive oil. 

Be generous, olive oil is essential for the taste and the correct rice texture.


Definitely sprinkle over dried oregano and some salt. 


Pour half of cup of cold water in the corner of the pan. 

Make sure you don't pour the water over the vegetables and potatoes.


Cover with a lid or with foil and bake in the preheated oven to 180 degrees C for 1 hour.


After 1 hour remove the lid/foil and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables and rice are cooked.


Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving. 

Notice how the rice makes such a good stuffing for the veggies.


They are simply delicious, warm or at room temperature, as such or with a Greek salad on the side. 

I've cooked them 5 times already and each time everybody loved them. 


Quantity: 2 kg (6-8 servings)
Prep time: 120 min
Difficulty: intermediate
Ready in: 60 min
Publish date:

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