Juicy, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavours! Gemista or yemista (which in Greek means ‘filled with’) is a traditional recipe for Greek stuffed tomatoes and/or other vegetables that are baked, until soft and nicely browned. It is one of the most popular recipes in any Greek taverna and household, together of course with the traditional Greek Moussaka!
The traditional Greek recipe for Gemista can be either vegetarian (which in my opinion is the best!), where the Gemista are filled with rice, chopped vegetables and baked in a tomato based sauce, or they may contain minced beef or pork.
There are countless recipes for Greek stuffed tomatoes (Gemista), with almost every household having its own. So feel free to experiment with the stuffing, with different types of herbs and varying amount of spices. Your imagination is your limit with this amazing Greek dish!
How to make the perfect traditional Gemista / Yemista
This traditional Greek recipe for Gemista falls under the category of Greek dishes called “Ladera”, meaning Greek dishes prepared with olive oil. So make sure to use some good quality extra virgin olive oil, which will surely lift the flavor! Although the traditional Greek recipe for Gemista doesn’t call for any butter, a little secret is to add just a little bit inside the Gemista before adding the stuffing for some extra flavor.
As the peppers are not as juicy as the tomatoes the stuffing of the peppers always comes out a little dry. To avoid that, spoon some extra tomato juice over the peppers and they will become just amazing. When cooking the Gemista, make sure to cover them with aluminium foil as the steam allows the rice to cook and the vegetables to soften without them ending up being burnt.
When tomatoes are in-season they are obviously the best choice to prepare this Greek dish, but for an all-year-round dish you can use eggplants and peppers or even courgettes!
What peppers should I choose to use?
If you like your Gemista to taste sweet use yellow, red or orange bell peppers. If you prefer a slight tang and bitterness, use green peppers. Why? Green bell peppers are bitter because they are simply unripe! So substituting them for a more colourful kind will make your Gemista deliciously sweet!
Serve these extra juicy, melt-in-the mouth Yemista (Greek stuffed tomatoes) with a block of salty feta cheese and lots of bread. Enjoy!Print
Looking for a traditional Greek Gemista/ Yemista recipe (stuffed tomatoes and peppers with rice)? Find out how to bake them to perfection with this locally sourced recipe and secret hints and tips!
- 8 tomatoes
- 4 green bell peppers (or orange, red or yellow if you prefer them sweet)
- 1–2 eggplants
- 5–6 potatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 500g/ 18 oz. rice (for risotto)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- a small bunch of parsley, chopped
- a small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 2 tsps sugar
- 2 tbsps of butter
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
- 250 grams (8.8oz) beef mince (optional)
- To prepare this delicious Greek stuffed tomatoes recipe, start by preparing your vegetables. Slice off the top of the tomatoes. Using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. (The flesh of the tomatoes will be the base for the tomato sauce for the Gemista.) Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will use them later for the filling of the Gemista. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside.
- Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables with as little flesh as possible, but be careful not to poke through their skin. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
- Prepare the sauce for the Gemista. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato paste, sugar, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Prepare the filling for the Gemista. In a saucepan add some olive oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Chop the zucchini in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped) and the chopped garlic and sauté, until softened. Add the rice and continue sautéing, unit it becomes transculent. Pour in 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Let the filling come to a boil. After 5 minutes the stuffing is ready. It doesn’t need to cook throughout as it will continue cooking in the oven. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the fresh herbs and taste and season with some more salt and pepper if needed.
- Meat Variation: If you prefer your gemista spiced up with some meat, try sizzling 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions in the step above. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, chop the zucchini in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped) and the chopped garlic and sauté, until softened. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent. Pour in 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper. Let the filling come to a boil. After 5 minutes the stuffing is ready. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the fresh herbs and taste and season with some more salt and pepper if needed.
- Peel and chop your potatoes in bite-sized chunks.
- Assemble the Gemista. Spoon the filling inside the empty vegetables, filling them up by about 2/3rds of the way up. The filling will expand a bit when cooking! Add your potatoes, spreading them out in between the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Finally spoon the filling liquids inside the vegetables until full and the remaining in the baking tray. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 3 cups of water in your baking tray
- Cover the Gemista with aluminium foil and bake in preheated oven at 180C / 350F for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminium foil and bake until nicely coloured.
- The Gemista are equally delicious, served either warm or even straight out of the fridge. Just pair them with some salty feta cheese and enjoy!
- Serving Size: 2 pieces
- Calories: 493kcal
- Sugar: 19.6g
- Sodium: 481.7mg
- Fat: 20.6g
- Saturated Fat: 4.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 15g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 73.8g
- Fiber: 13.8g
- Protein: 9.7g
- Cholesterol: 8.7mg
Keywords: Gemista recipe, Greek stuffed Tomatoes with rice, Greek Yemista