Monday, February 13, 2012

Yemista, or Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

One of my favorite foods while on Crete was the stuffed tomatoes. Here is an excellent recipe I found via, with my modifications.

* 5-7 medium sized tomatoes
* 5-6 medium to large bell peppers
* 3/4 cup olive oil
* 3/4 - 1 lb medium grain white rice
* 1/2 large sweet onion [original recipe calls for one onion, finely chopped]
[* optional: 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine]
* 1/4 cup fresh spearmint, mint or sweet basil
* 1/2 cup fresh parsley
* 1/2 - 1 cup pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
* 1/2 cup hard cheese, such as parmesan, mizithra or kefalograviera
[* optional: 1/2 cup sultana raisins]
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat oven to 375 F (180 C).
1. Cut off and retain tops of the tomatoes and peppers.
2. Scoop out the flesh and seeds of the tomatoes into a food processor.
3. Scoop out membranes and seeds of the peppers and discard.
4. Place tomatoes and peppers in a 3 x 19 inch baking pan. I use glass. Must be large enough to hold all of them with some space for cooking fluid.
5. Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes and peppers with granulated sugar.
6. Add the onion, basil, garlic, and parsley to the tomato flesh and pulse the food processor until everything is incorporated and finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.
7. Add olive oil, nuts, cheese, sultanas, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the tomato puree, and mix to incorporate. Add enough rice to form an evenly distributed mixture. Mix well.
8. Spoon the mixture into the tomatoes and peppers.
9. Place the tops back ontop the peppers and tomatoes.
10. Whisk together 1 cup water with 1/2 cup olive oil, and the tomato paste. Pour in the pan along side the tomatoes and peppers.
11. Bake 1 3/4 hours. Then turn off the oven and allow to mellow 1 hour or until service is ready.
12. Most places say to serve this slightly warm or at room temperature. I like mine warm, because it's a weird contrast to serve hot and cold food on the same plate.

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