RICE STUFFED VEGETABLES (YEMISTA)


Once upon a time, back when mum made Yemista, we would roll our eyes and think “Jeez, not this again”. Yep. Sad I know. What is it about a child’s taste buds that make food seem so bitter? Well at least as adult, those tones reduce and we are able to appreciate more flavours. This is one of those dishes.

Yemista is now one of those dishes we order from the menu in a Greek restaurant. Everyone makes them differently so it is like ordering a new meal every time. Some are stuffed with rice only, some with rice and feta, some with rice and mince and others with rice and a variety of herbs and spices. Some are served with potatoes and olives, others with thick Greek yogurt. So as you can see, when we go to a restaurant, we don’t know which version we will get. It’s like a little surprise on a plate!

The Yemista I have written here for you all is the way my mum makes them. I have added the carrot for extra sweetness but generally the recipe is pretty original. My family (not including my son) LOOOVES these and if I could make them every week, they would happily gobble them up! Hope you give them a try. Enjoy x

Potatoes:

2 large white potatoes, washed and diced (leave the skin on)

2 tbs olive oil

sea salt / pepper

Vegetables:

4 large semi-rip tomatoes

1 medium eggplant

2 smaller green capsicums

Filling:

2 tbs olive oil + extra 4 tbs to drizzle over the top

1 brown onion, peeled and diced

4 green onions / scallions

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ cup parsley, finely chopped

½ cup dill, finely chopped

1 carrot, grated

1/4 cup basmati rice

1/2 cup medium grain rice

generous amount of sea salt / pepper

2 cups boiling water + 1/2 cup for tray

  1. Preheat oven 180C fan forced.

  2. Prepare the vegetables. Slice off the top of all the tomatoes and capsicum. For the capsicum, scoop out the seeds and discard. For the tomatoes, scoop out most of the flesh leaving the outer layer intact and creating a sturdy shell. Finely chop the tomato flesh and set aside in a bowl.

  3. Prepare the eggplant by cutting it half and then cutting the two ends so the eggplant can stand nicely in the tray. Scoop out the insides of the eggplant, then finely chop the insides and set aside in a bowl.

  4. Place all hollowed vegetable in a baking tray.

  5. Place a large pan over high heat with the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, green onions, parsley, dill and carrot and salt and pepper and sauté for 4 minutes.

  6. Add to the tomato flesh and eggplant flesh and fry off well for 4 minutes then add to the pan the rice and boiling water and let it simmer for 4 minutes stirring occasionally.

  7. Take off the heat and begin assembling by using a spoon to fill the vegetables. Fill them to the top.

  8. In a bowl, add the potatoes and season with sea salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss. Add them to the baking dish with the stuffed vegetables by spreading them throughout the tray and in between the vegetables. If there is any leftover rice filling, sprinkle it in between the potatoes to add extra flavour.

  9. Drizzle everything with the 4 tablespoons of all olive oil over the top. Add 1/4 -1/2 cup water in the tray to help the potatoes to cook and cover with a sheet of baking paper and then with a sheet of foil but do not fold in all the sides to allow steam to evaporate (as shown in photo).

  10. Bake for 1 hour covered then 15 minutes uncovered.

  11. Serve with olives and feta. Enjoy!

  12. Step by step photos below

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