Straight out of the Mediterranean, a vegetarian recipe of stuffed peppers and eggplants full of aromas and flavours. It may be time-consuming but the result is beyond belief!
Summer in Greece…it’s not just the sun and the beaches. It’s much more than that. It’s the relaxed attitude of the people, the colours of nature, the seasonal vegetables, the iodine from the sea breeze…cannot be described really. You have to feel it.
Did I mentioned seasonal vegetables? Right, the ones that grow naturally only in the summer and take advantage of the bright sun. Tomatoes (even though they grow a bit earlier), eggplants, peppers, cucumbers etc.
Sure, you can find all of them in your local super market even in December but…they cannot compete with the Mediterranean ones coming out of the farmers land straight into your plate.
A classic summer Greek dish is the stuffed vegetables in the oven (Gemista). Easily, one of my favourite dishes! There is no meat involved but still, the end-result is overwhelming.
Typically, the dish contains stuffed tomatoes, which in the summer are ripe, sweet and juicy. Unfortunately, as I have stated many times, I cannot find decent tomatoes where I live. So I stick with the rest of the vegetables for stuffing, eggplants and peppers.
The fresh parsley and mint give all the amazing aromas to the dish. Don’t be scared to use as much as you want, it’s just what nature offers us generously.
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- 5 bell peppers (red and green).
- 2 eggplants.
- 3-4 sweet ripe tomatoes.
- 500 ml (17 fl oz) tomato passata.
- 3-4 potatoes cut in big chunks.
- 1 large onion finely chopped.
- A handful of pine nuts.
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley finely chopped.
- 1 bunch of fresh mint finely chopped.
- 1 ½ cups of long grain rice.
- 80 gr (3 oz) grated yellow cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, Edam etc).
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and ground pepper.
- Wash the peppers and cut their top. Remove the seeds from the spongy flesh and keep it aside. Use a spoon to empty the rest of the peppers.
- Wash the eggplants. Cut a stripe lengthwise close to the top. Use a knife together with a spoon to empty the meaty part of the eggplant so you can create a cavity to stuff it. Keep the flesh of one the eggplants together with the spongy parts of the peppers.
- Add the fresh tomatoes into the blender to create a smooth paste.
- Chop finely the spongy parts of the peppers and the eggplant flesh. Add them into a bowl, together with the fresh tomato paste, half of the tomato passata, fresh parsley and mint.
- In a large frying pan on medium heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and start frying the onion. When it starts getting soft, add the pine nuts and keep cooking for another minute. Stir well.
- Add the rice and cook it for about a minute while stirring. Add the mixture from the bowl, half a cup of hot water, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Let it cook for ~ 3-4 minutes.
- When you see that the juices start to reduce, remove from the heat, add the cheese and stir well.
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (360 F).
- Place the peppers and eggplants on a baking tray. Make sure there is enough room for the potatoes.
- Start filling the peppers and eggplants with the rice mixture. Do not fill them to the top as the rice will cook and eventually expand. Cover them with their lids you saved.
- Add the potatoes in the tray between your vegetables. Pour in the rest of the oil, tomato passata, one cup of hot water and season with salt and pepper. You may add some of the rice mixture if there is any left. Don't use it all if it's too much left because the rice will absorb all of the juices.
- Cook in the oven for about 1 ½ – 2 hours, depending how you prefer your vegetables to be cooked. Check from time to time to see if there are enough juices. If not, add some hot water.
- You can enjoy them hot or warm with some Feta cheese on the side.
- Bon appetit!