I thought today I would take a break from the kitchen, but I have a daughter that is more active than me and is ready to get in the kitchen any time of the day.
Today, we are making stuffed veggies --or "Gemista"inspired by the traditional greek food of stuffing vegetables. "Gemista" means "stuffed" in greek.
This recipe is traditionally baked in the oven and never in a pot like some other stuffed vegetable dishes that originate in the Middle East.
I use whole round brown rice similar to risotto style rice which I soak overnight or for a few hours. This will cut down the cooking time. Even so, you will need to bake it for at least 2 hours until the brown rice cooks through.
I use 2.5 Tbs of rice for each small to medium sized pepper. Here in this recipe there are 6 peppers and 2 small tomatoes. Not all vegetables are the same size, so this is an approximate number. Tip: You can also use bulgur instead of rice and for this you will not need to soak at all. It is a divine alternative.
To my rice I add:
1 carrot grated
2 zucchinis grated
Pumpkin (about 4x4in.) grated
1 large tomato grated
2 medium white onions chopped fine
This combo of veggies will caramelize the filling and add more flavor. You can use some or all of them, however, I recommend to use at least the zucchini, carrot and the tomato to achieve the caramelization.
To this I add:
Half bunch of parsley and coriander or any other herb combination of your choice.
The more the greens the better. You can also add Spinach or Kale.
Olive Oil (plenty)at least 1/2 cup if not more. ( The greeks love Olive Oil and this is the secret for delicious food)
Salt and black pepper.
1 Tsp of Turmeric powder for added nutrition. This is optional of course, but I love it.
Add all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon until well combined.
Cut the top of your peppers and tomatoes half inch from the top and remove the inside contents. Keep the top as you will use this to cover each vegetable so that the rice can cook and keep from drying out. It’s important to oil and salt the interior of your veggies before filling. Fill them almost to the top with your mixture and place each lid back on.
If you have potatoes or sweet potatoes handy you can coated coat them in olive oil and oregano and add to the pan and around yor stuffed veggies. Make sure each stuffed veggie is sitting upright. If they tip over all the juices will spill out and your filling will dry out. You can use potatoes and other vegetables as support to secure them upright.
Drizzle Olive oil and squeeze a fresh tomato over each stuffed pepper and top with a sprinkle of salt.
Add half cup of water to the pan and place in the oven at 190-200 degrees C for anywhere between 2-2.5 hours depending on your rice time.
Check periodically and remove the top baking paper for the last 10 minutes of baking, so that the veggies can caramelize a bit, if going if it hasn't already occurred by then.
Enjoy with a nice crispy green salad on the side.