Gemista – A Rainbow of Stuffed Veggies

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With less than a month left before the baby is due to arrive, a riot of feelings are bombarding me as I am trying to get mentally and physically prepared. The excitement that our small family (or perhaps not so small anymore) soon get to meet the tiny person that has been kicking my ribs out for the past months. The nervousness how this baby will affect our family’s dynamic. And the fear that we won’t have time to hug all our children and each other enough as we will be drowning under all the duties of everyday life.

I don’t think I can be entirely mentally prepared for all the changes that are coming. But I am at least trying to solve a few practicalities. I have just started filling the freezer with soups, bread and vegetable patties. I have also picked up a small selection of new clothes for the baby and brought down the ones we saved from Isac from the attic. Isac has been sleeping in our room until now but will soon move in together with Elsa. Things are starting to fall into place, piece by piece.

One bump in the preparations is that David actually is traveling to Turkey tomorrow and will be there for a few days for a mission with WFP, meeting Syrian refugees and documenting their stories (he will tell you more about it here on the blog soon). Even if I am not thrilled about the timing, we both felt like this was something we wanted to be involved in. I’m just crossing my fingers that the baby isn’t too eager to come out early (and that he will stay safe down there)!

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Lately, I have been making variations of the Greek dish Gemista (a.k.a stuffed vegetables). The kids are loving it and have been shoving there faces full with the stuffing even before it’s baked.

The traditional way of preparing the rice is to let it cook together with the rest of the stuffing ingredients but since we are using red or black rice, we cook it separately and then add it, otherwise it stains the entire filling and it just doesn’t look pleasant.
In Greece they usually also add some potato slices in between the vegetables on the tray and then pour a thin layer of tomato passata to cover the bottom of the tray. This slightly cleaner approach work well in our family as the kids love to hold the stuffed vegetables with their hands without getting messy. But feel free to add potatoes and tomato sauce for a more traditional take.

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We used a mix of green, yellow and red tomatoes and peppers and it came out so beautiful. If you only have red tomatoes, that of course works as well. It is easily made vegan by swapping the feta cheese with tofu.

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Gemista – Rice Stuffed Vegetables 
Serves 4

200 g/ 1 cup red rice, rinsed
500 ml / 2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

1 kg / 2 lb mixed tomatoes and/or bell peppers (approx 15 vegetables, less if they are large)

1-2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
20 wrinkly black olives, pitted
2 tbsp pickled capers, drained
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 handfull almonds, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp raisins or finely chopped dates
150 g /1 cup feta cheese (optional)

Yogurt sauce
1 cup natural yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Place rice and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat immediately and let simmer on low heat for as long as instructed on the packet (meanwhile prepare the other ingredients). Drain if needed and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.

Trim off the top of each tomato. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and flesh from the tomatoes and into a bowl. Slice each bell pepper lengthwise and discard the seeds, alternatively trim off each top and discard the seeds (depending on the shape of the pepper).

Heat oil in a skillet, add onion, olives and capers. Finely chop the tomato flesh and add it together with the seeds and liquid. Sauté for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant, then transfer to the mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Fill upp the tomatoes and bell peppers with the stuffing, pressing down very gently as you go. Place the caps back on top of the tomatoes and bell peppers. Place the vegetables in a greased ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tomatoes and bell peppers are soft, golden and have slightly burnt edges. Whisk together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl while the vegetables are in the oven.

Serve the stuffed vegetables with a drizzle of yogurt sauce and a simple side salad of choice.

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PS! We are having a supper club at Urban Deli in Stockholm next Monday, 26th September at 17.00. We have created a dinner menu together with them and it includes a few smoothies from our new book, warm dishes from our other books and a dessert. We will be there all evening to talk about our books, food philosophy, answer questions and also try to sit down and chat with all of you. Hopefully we will all have a nice and cosy Monday evening. Tickets can be purchased here!

We have also released a few new products together with Urban Deli – a curry, a salad, a smoothie and a delicious overnight oats – that are sold as take-away boxes on all their locations.

54 Comments

  • This was amazing! We had this as a big family dinner today and loved it so much :) Thank you for your great inspirations and we have our hands and feet crossed for your next wonderful baby weeks! <3
  • Gorgeous photos, and those colours are to die for! Stuffed veggies are the perfect winter comfort food xx http://www.mimazine.co.uk/
  • What a celebration of colour, looks tasty too...
  • Stuffed veggies are such a good way to "hide" healthy foods for kids. They love the kind of "gift" opening part of the dinner :)
  • Nice colorful pictures. Almost want to pick and eat them! As a single and a vegetarian person, I tend to eat out more than I should. Working for an events promotion company in London, where the food events category is quite popular, I get to sample some interesting creations. Yours certainly has encouraged me to cook some fresh vegetarian dishes at home.
  • This sounds delicious! I would love to make this. I will have to tell you how it goes!
  • I love your blog and was wondering how you plan your blog posts and how far in advance do you make your recipes before you post them? Do you stick to a certain schedule? I just started my Instagram account dedicated to Egyptian food and trying to get it right while juggling a full-time job. Thanks! Carol https://www.instagram.com/theegyptianepicurean/
  • Good luck with the new baby, these look like something my veg hating toddler would actually eat!
  • Hello! This is great post, I love any type of stuffed vegetable recipe as it adds so much more depth to a dish. I'm currently featuring Kolokithakia Gemista, a Cypriot dish of stuffed courgette flowers, tradionally made during the summer harvest season. Here is a link to check it out bit.ly/vswcyprus Thank you!
  • Simon Masoner
    Great recepie! Super tasty! :)
  • That post just makes me so hungry that I´m gone go to kitchen and do it! The ingredients are also so usual that I almost always have these.
  • Claire
    I love your website and your recipes. I have a question about a book you were mentioning in another recipe. "Staying healthy with the season". I just want to know, if it's also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. I would appreciate your answer. Claire
  • Mona
    Needed a good show-off meal for myself this weekend when my family was eating stuffed grilled chicken and your stunning idea came at the right moment. It worked really well and everyone wanted a bite! Incredibly tasty with the olives, capers and feta! Wish you guys all the best for whats to come!
  • Incredible colours and photography as always. Those tomatoes look so delicious! Wishing you all the best for the rest of your pregnancy <3
  • Nothing beats the exitement before the arrival of a new baby but I also understand the worries that comes with it! I wish you a great and safe delivery. This post look beautiful! It takes me back to my childhood as my mother always used to cook rice filled peppers that we poured cold yoghurt over when eating them x
  • Jenny
    The recipe worked really well and is a keeper in my book. Yum. Thx
  • Stacey
    It looks delicious! Do you have any suggestions for a vegan alternative to the yogurt sauce? (Good luck with all the baby preparations!)
  • Stef
    Great project - baby #3 as well as the one with the WFP. :-) They do fantastic work. You probably know their App "Share the meal", do you. For all who don't: Look it up in your App store! It is a super simple way for any smartphone owner to do something against world hunger. Forty cent do help and do feed a child for one day. Great opportunity for all of us who care for good food to support those who cannot afford enough of any kind oft food. All the best for a happy and healthy start in a bigger and equally warm and caring family!!

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