Stuffed vegetables appear in many culinary traditions. Surely if you have traveled to Navarra you will not have been able to resist some stuffed piquillos; Asturian stuffed onions, cooked for hours, are an absolute delight and one cannot visit the island of Mallorca without trying some stuffed aubergines. Beyond our borders, we find stuffed vegetables all over the Mediterranean. In Greece, the gemista -that is pronounced of the mistress and rhymes with Comidista- it is a recipe for vegetables, whether they are tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions or aubergines, which are filled with rice, vegetables and, sometimes, meat.
As I have seen in various recipes, a good gemista It is made with a lot of olive oil, extra virgin if possible and of good quality, as it is what will make a difference on the plate and on the palate. Don’t worry about the extra calories, then go for a walk and enjoy the pleasure of eating good ingredients cooked over low heat. In my version I use brown rice instead of long white rice, which is what is traditionally used, and I add feta cheese and Kalamata black olives to add a more flavorful touch to the filling.
Although it is a complex recipe due to the huge list of ingredients and steps, I assure you that it is worth all the money in the world: it had been a long time since I enjoyed something out of the oven so much. I advise you to organize yourself well, prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook and read the recipe several times to familiarize yourself with the steps to follow. This will reduce the chances that something will not turn out as you expected.
You may be wondering if you can leave the recipe prepared in advance. The answer is: of course. Follow the recipe up to the point where you fill the tomatoes, but don’t cut the potatoes. You can store the uncooked stuffed tomatoes in an airtight container in the fridge and bake them with the potatoes the next day. If you have tomatoes left over, store them in clean airtight containers in the fridge, they will last three or four days perfectly. You can reheat them, but I prefer to take them out half an hour before to warm them up and eat them like that.
The one to buy the ingredients.
For 4 people
- 4 beautiful salad tomatoes
- 2-3 large potatoes
- 70 g of brown rice
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 50 g of black olives
- 100 g of feta cheese
- 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 dessert spoon of ground cumin
- 1 dessert spoon of dried thyme
- ½ dessert spoon of nutmeg
- 400 g of natural crushed tomato
- 200 ml of water
- 6 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- Freshly ground black pepper
Soak the rice and leave it for at least an hour.
Wash the tomatoes and cut off the top, making a kind of lid. With the help of a lace and a spoon, empty the tomato, removing all the pulp. Save the lid and pulp for later.
Wash the potatoes well to remove any dirt and dust from the skin. Cut it into wedges, with the skin, and reserve.
Julienne the onion and garlic. Chop the black olives and cut the feta cheese into small cubes. Reserve.
In a low-walled pot, heat six tablespoons olive oil over low heat and fry the onion with a pinch of salt.
After about 10 minutes, when the onion is translucent and has reduced in size, add the garlic, stir and cook for another five minutes, until the garlic softens.
Add the cumin, thyme and nutmeg. Stir and let them release their aromas.
Increase the heat a little, to a medium intensity, and add the well drained rice. Stir with a spatula for a couple of minutes, so that the rice acquires a pearly appearance.
Add the crushed tomato, 200 ml of water and season to taste. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer. Let it cook like this, covered, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC.
When the time has passed, add the parsley, mint, feta cheese and black olives to the tomato and rice. Stir and extinguish the fire.
Prepare a baking dish by placing the potato wedges and the pulp of the tomatoes on the base.
Put the tomatoes on top of the potatoes and fill them with the mixture of rice, olives and feta. Put the tomato lid on them and add the remaining olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the tray with aluminum foil and cook like this for 50 minutes.
After time, remove the aluminum and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes.
Tomatoes have to be well done, with very wrinkled skin; and the tender potato. If the potato is still a bit hard, remove the tomatoes and bake for 10 more minutes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.