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Yemista (Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers)

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Yemista is a traditional Greek recipe for summer vegetables stuffed with rice and herbs. Whether it’s stuffed tomatoes or peppers, the vegetables are always roasted and delicious.

Your visit to Ikaria would not be complete without trying this authentic Greek dish, Yemista, also known as Gemista. It is highly versatile and can be made with any seasonal vegetable, such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, or zucchini. The filling is traditionally made with rice and vegetables; in some places, ground beef is used.

I was intrigued by the idea of trying them, so I visited a Greek restaurant in Lausanne. I know it is not as authentic as when you are in Greece, but they had a Greek cook, and he assured me that this was the right way of making it. 

So I’m filling juicy beefsteak tomatoes and sweet bell peppers with a herby rice. You can also use any leftover veggies like zucchini, carrots, or eggplant.

Can I make stuffed vegetables in advance?

Why you will love this recipe?

  1. It’s perfect for summer with its abundance of seasonal veggies.
  2. It offers a genuine taste of Greek cuisine, full of flavor and plant-based goodness.
  3. Made with wholesome ingredients, it’s a healthy option that follows principles of longevity-focused eating.
Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers Ingredients

Yemista Recipe Ingredients

3 Tomatoes

It’s important to use juicy tomatoes with firm flesh, as their flesh, seeds, and juices flavor the rice. 

3 Bell Peppers (any color)

For filling

uncooked medium grain rice

olive oil

garlic cloves minced

large onion finelly chopped

pine nuts

kefalograviera cheese or 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded

sultana raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh herbs – 3 handful mint or peppermint, 1 handful parsley

For sauce

tomato paste

vegetable broth or water

olive oil

Alternatively, make this traditional Italian pasta sauce.

Fresh Herbs:

parsley or mint, alternatively peppermint works great

How to Make the Best Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers – Gemista

First step: Prepare the veggies

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare the bell peppers and tomatoes by cutting off the tops and scooping out the flesh (retain this for the filling), creating hollow vessels. Set them aside.

Prepare the veggies

Second step: Prepare the filling

In a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced onion, and sauté until softened and fragrant. Sprinkle with herbs, mint and parsley finely chopped.

Blend the tomato flesh until pureed and add it to the skillet. Stir in the rice, shredded cheese pine nuts and sultana raisins, stirring constantly to prevent burning. There is no need for the rice to be cooked completely; it will finish cooking during the baking process.

Prepare the filling

Third step: Stuff the vegetables

Stuff each tomato and pepper with the filling mixture and close them with the tops of the veggies. 

Stuff the vegetables and bake them

Fourth step: Make the sauce

Mix together 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of olive oil, then add a small spoonful of tomato paste along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour this mixture around the vegetables.

Fifth step: Bake the stuffed veggies

Place the stuffed tomatoes and peppers in a baking dish, and place it the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hour, or until the tomatoes and peppers are tender and slightly blackened in parts. You should be able to pierce them easily.

Switch off the oven and let the dish sit for an additional hour to “mellow” before serving. This step is crucial as it allows a  caramelization. Without this last step It would taste like a warm pepper salad mixed with rice.

Why you will love this recipe?

Serve it warm.

How to serve the yemista?

  1. Enjoy it alongside small bites of feta cheese and a refreshing glass of white or rosé wine.
  2. The dish will have delicious juices you can mop up with crusty bread.
  3. You can also serve it with potatoes, which you can bake in wedges. 

Can I make stuffed vegetables in advance?

You can prepare and cook the gemista ahead of time. Cover it with cling film and refrigerate after they cool down in their baking dish. When reheating, let them sit at room temperature for about an hour to warm up. Then, add half a cup of water to the bottom of the pan, cover it, and bake in a medium-heat oven until heated through.

Yemista Ingredients
Yemista (Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers)

Yemista (Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers)

Yemista is a traditional Greek dish consisting of summer vegetables stuffed with rice and herbs. Whether it's stuffed tomatoes or peppers, they are always roasted and delicious.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Blue Zone Recipes, Greek
Servings 4
Calories 342 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 3 Bell Peppers any color

For filling

  • 1/2 cup uncooked medium grain rice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large onion finelly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup kefalograviera cheese or parmesan cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup sultana raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 handful Fresh herbs ( mint, peppermint or parsley)

For sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare the bell peppers and tomatoes by cutting off the tops and scooping out the flesh (retain this for the filling), creating hollow vessels. Set them aside.
  • In a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced onion, and sauté until softened and fragrant. Sprinkle with herbs, mint and parsley finely chopped.
  • Blend the tomato flesh until pureed and add it to the skillet. Stir in the rice, shredded cheese pine nuts and sultana raisins, stirring constantly to prevent burning. There is no need for the rice to be cooked completely; it will finish cooking during the baking process.
  • Stuff each tomato and pepper with the filling mixture and close them with the tops of the veggies.
  • Mix together 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of olive oil, then add a small spoonful of tomato paste along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour this mixture around the vegetables.
  • Place the stuffed tomatoes and peppers in a baking dish, and place it the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hour, or until the tomatoes and peppers are tender and slightly blackened in parts. You should be able to pierce them easily.
  • Switch off the oven and let the dish sit for an additional hour to “mellow” before serving. This step is crucial as it allows a  caramelization. Without this last step It would taste like a warm pepper salad mixed with rice.
  • Serve it warm.

Notes

You can prepare and cook the gemista ahead of time. Cover it with cling film and refrigerate after they cool down in their baking dish. When reheating, let them sit at room temperature for about an hour to warm up. Then, add half a cup of water to the bottom of the pan, cover it, and bake in a medium-heat oven until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 200gCalories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 4gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gSodium: 41mgPotassium: 548mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 3629IUVitamin C: 128mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Greek Stuffed Vegetable, yemista
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Vladka on May 27th, 2024

3 Comments on “Yemista (Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers)”

5 from 3 votes

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