Last week we hit all time record low temps… so cool that I felt like I needed a jacket on some days. And the sun wasn’t wanting to peek his head out either. So it being cold and gray it definitely felt like comfort food. Coupled with the fact that my family actually REQUESTED a major Greek meal. When people find out my ethnic background one of the many questions I get asked it DO YOU COOK LOTS OF GREEK FOOD. And the answer is truly no. Not that much. Why? It’s heavier than I care to eat. It takes a lot of prep time. You can’t make just a little bit for the effort and time you put in. So I don’t do these BIG things that often. But they’re SO yummy, I had to share it with all of you!
On the menu, Yemista. That translates to STUFFED. Yes. Stuffed. But really it means stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and some love eggplant. I don’t. I just do the tomatoes and peppers. You can stuff it with ground beef and rice, but I prefer just rice. It’s a popular dish during the summer in Greece and it’s one of my faves. It is simple and easy? Well… it’s not hard… it’s just time consuming in the prep work. Other than that, it’s all good! Ready? Let’s get cookin!
- Big tomatoes
- Big green peppers
- White rice
- Yellow onion
- Head of garlic
- Fresh basil
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Potatoes to cook with them in the pan
Notice I didn’t give measurements. This is because this is how I was taught and this is how I’m teaching you, so my apologies in advance if you can’t do it like this…. really it’s all just kinda eyeballing everything, and tasting as you go.
When picking out your veggies that you’re going to be stuffing, hold them upright in your hand to make sure they can balance and sit upright in your pan.
First wash your tomatoes and peppers and slice off the tops, one at at time. Scoop out the insides… The peppers I threw out the insides and made sure there were no seeds left. The tomatoes I scooped out the guts into a bowl, then poured it thru a sieve, saved the juice in one bowl, and the fleshy part in the other. I tried get rid of as much of the seeds as I could and chopped up as much of the fleshy part as I could into tiny pieces. … So you have a bowl of tomato juice and a bowl of the insides of the tomato cut up…
Chop up the onion and mince your garlic. I used one whole onion and one whole garlic clove.
So at this point I have a pan with my empty tomatoes and peppers, lids placed back on top. Just sitting and waiting for the stuffing to be made…
I then moved to the stove and sautéed the onion till translucent, then added in the garlic… in QUITE a bit of olive oil. There is no Pam in this one! LOTS of oil is needed for this to have the flavors be so amazing… Once I sautéed the garlic with the onion a bit longer, I added the chopped up parsley and basil, the tomatoes and tomato juices….
I let this sauté a bit longer….
I then added water and the rice and let it cook till it was almost done…. How much? Well…. lets just say my pot was FULL and I WAY over estimated :)…. I kept adding water and oil, water and oil, and more salt and pepper… and I only used about 1/3 of the rice mixture. You want to make sure your rice is isn’t dry. You want it sill kinda wet-ish….
Then I moved back to the island and stuffed the peppers and tomatoes about halfway full and placed their tops back on them…
I also peeled and quartered some potatoes and tossed them in amongst the peppers and tomatoes. I poured MORE olive oil all over the potatoes and the peppers and tomatoes after they were closed with their tops on, stuffed. I wanted them glistening also so that they wouldn’t crack as much in the oven too. Once I did that I sprinkled MORE salt and pepper on the outsides of them, and even a splash of garlic powder just for flavor.
I baked them in the oven at 425 for about an hour and a half… I could tell when they were turning brown it was time! I wanted to be sure the potatoes were cooked.
And here’s what we got… drumroll please!
Oh so yummy goodness… I can’t even begin to tell you! It made my kids think of YiaYia’s cooking and totally made them say “WE MISS GREECE!”… It was THAT awesome and totally worth the effort!