Gemista – A Rainbow of Stuffed Veggies
With less than a month left before the baby is due to arrive, a riot of feelings are bombarding me as I am trying to get mentally and physically prepared. The excitement that our small family (or perhaps not so small anymore) soon get to meet the tiny person that has been kicking my ribs out for the past months. The nervousness how this baby will affect our family’s dynamic. And the fear that we won’t have time to hug all our children and each other enough as we will be drowning under all the duties of everyday life.
I don’t think I can be entirely mentally prepared for all the changes that are coming. But I am at least trying to solve a few practicalities. I have just started filling the freezer with soups, bread and vegetable patties. I have also picked up a small selection of new clothes for the baby and brought down the ones we saved from Isac from the attic. Isac has been sleeping in our room until now but will soon move in together with Elsa. Things are starting to fall into place, piece by piece.
One bump in the preparations is that David actually is traveling to Turkey tomorrow and will be there for a few days for a mission with WFP, meeting Syrian refugees and documenting their stories (he will tell you more about it here on the blog soon). Even if I am not thrilled about the timing, we both felt like this was something we wanted to be involved in. I’m just crossing my fingers that the baby isn’t too eager to come out early (and that he will stay safe down there)!
Lately, I have been making variations of the Greek dish Gemista (a.k.a stuffed vegetables). The kids are loving it and have been shoving there faces full with the stuffing even before it’s baked.
The traditional way of preparing the rice is to let it cook together with the rest of the stuffing ingredients but since we are using red or black rice, we cook it separately and then add it, otherwise it stains the entire filling and it just doesn’t look pleasant.
In Greece they usually also add some potato slices in between the vegetables on the tray and then pour a thin layer of tomato passata to cover the bottom of the tray. This slightly cleaner approach work well in our family as the kids love to hold the stuffed vegetables with their hands without getting messy. But feel free to add potatoes and tomato sauce for a more traditional take.
We used a mix of green, yellow and red tomatoes and peppers and it came out so beautiful. If you only have red tomatoes, that of course works as well. It is easily made vegan by swapping the feta cheese with tofu.
Gemista – Rice Stuffed Vegetables
200 g/ 1 cup red rice, rinsed
500 ml / 2 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 kg / 2 lb mixed tomatoes and/or bell peppers (approx 15 vegetables, less if they are large)
1-2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
20 wrinkly black olives, pitted
2 tbsp pickled capers, drained
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 handfull almonds, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp raisins or finely chopped dates
150 g /1 cup feta cheese (optional)
1 cup natural yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.
Place rice and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat immediately and let simmer on low heat for as long as instructed on the packet (meanwhile prepare the other ingredients). Drain if needed and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
Trim off the top of each tomato. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and flesh from the tomatoes and into a bowl. Slice each bell pepper lengthwise and discard the seeds, alternatively trim off each top and discard the seeds (depending on the shape of the pepper).
Heat oil in a skillet, add onion, olives and capers. Finely chop the tomato flesh and add it together with the seeds and liquid. Sauté for about 15 minutes until soft and fragrant, then transfer to the mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Fill upp the tomatoes and bell peppers with the stuffing, pressing down very gently as you go. Place the caps back on top of the tomatoes and bell peppers. Place the vegetables in a greased ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tomatoes and bell peppers are soft, golden and have slightly burnt edges. Whisk together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl while the vegetables are in the oven.
Serve the stuffed vegetables with a drizzle of yogurt sauce and a simple side salad of choice.
PS! We are having a supper club at Urban Deli in Stockholm next Monday, 26th September at 17.00. We have created a dinner menu together with them and it includes a few smoothies from our new book, warm dishes from our other books and a dessert. We will be there all evening to talk about our books, food philosophy, answer questions and also try to sit down and chat with all of you. Hopefully we will all have a nice and cosy Monday evening. Tickets can be purchased here!
We have also released a few new products together with Urban Deli – a curry, a salad, a smoothie and a delicious overnight oats – that are sold as take-away boxes on all their locations.