Want to dive into the world of Greek cuisine but don't know where to start? Meraki Greek Bistro in Miami has the solution, in the form of these hearty peppers and tomatoes that are stuffed with seasoned rice. Be sure to use ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, as their juices serve as the filling's cooking liquid.
Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers & Tomatoes)
Recipe adapted from Meraki Greek Bistro, Miami, FL
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
3 large ripe hothouse or beefsteak tomatoes
3 large green bell peppers
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium white onions, small dice (4 cups)
½ cup uncooked white rice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¼ cup finely chopped dill, plus extra for topping
¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves, plus extra for topping
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves, plus extra for topping
4 medium potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 370°.
2. Use a knife to cut the top quarter off the tomatoes. Working over a bowl, gently use a spoon and a knife to remove the middle parts of the tomatoes, reserving any juice, seeds and flesh.
3. Use a knife to cut out the stems of the bell peppers and discard any seeds. Reserve the hollowed peppers and tomatoes on a plate, and set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat ½ cup of olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until the onions start to soften, and then slowly add the rice to the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the reserved tomato cores (including any juice) to the pan, using your spoon or spatula to break up any larger pieces as they cook. Add the oregano, pepper and 1½ teaspoons of the salt, and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the rice is almost fully cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dill, mint and parsley, mixing well to ensure the herbs are incorporated throughout.
6. Toss the potato wedges with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
7. Spoon the rice mixture into the hollowed peppers and tomatoes; there should be enough rice to fill each of them to the top. Arrange the peppers, tomatoes and potatoes in a baking pan, using the potatoes to help the tomatoes and peppers stand upright. Pour the remaining 1 cup of olive oil over the peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2 hours.
8. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and the reserved herbs. Serve hot.