We recently travelled to both Santorini and Milos. Our adventures were something we will never forget and will hold close to our hearts and so will we the food. You can read more about our travels here and here.
I have had the pleasure of welcoming my friend, Kathy Tsaples to the Relish Mama kitchen for the past few years. Kathy’s food is generous and straight from the heart. She was delighted for me to share this delicious Yemista recipe of hers with you all. It is from her stunning book Sweet Greek.
Yemista – Stuffed vegetables with rice and meat
Seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant and zucchini are stuffed with rice and herbs then served as a main meal. The vegetables can either be prepared with rice and fresh herbs or with minced meat, rice and herbs. Either way, they are delicious and reflect summer on a plate.
500 g minced meat (preferably beef)
3 large tomatoes
2 red capsicums
1 green capsicum
2 small round zucchinis
1 large eggplant
2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup of feta, crumbled
2 large onions, grated
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups of short-grain rice
1 cup of olive oil
1 cup of water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup of mint, freshly chopped
1/2 cup of parsley, freshly chopped
1/2 cup of basil, freshly chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Slice off and put aside the tops of the tomatoes, capsicums and zucchini. Scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes and zucchini with a spoon, and keep these for later. Seed the capsicums without piercing the skin. Sprinkle the interior of the vegetables ‘shells’ with a little salt and set aside.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the flesh to form two shells.
Blanch the eggplant and the capsicums in boiling water for about 3 minutes and drain.
Arrange all the vegetables in a baking dish. Finely chop all the flesh that has been scooped out from the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Heat half the olive oil in a pan over high heat. Add your meat and cook until brown. Add the onion and the garlic and all the flesh from your vegetables. Cook this mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add your rice, cinnamon, allspice and oregano together with the tomato paste. Take off the heat and add all your fresh herbs and feta.
Spoon the mixture into the vegetable shells until they are three-quarters full and replace the tops on the tomatoes, capsicums and zucchini.
On a baking dish, arrange the stuffed vegetables and put potato wedges in between them. Sprinkle a little salt, pour in about 1 cup of water and then drizzle the remaining olive oil all over. Bake in a
moderate oven for about 1.5 –2 hours. Check halfway. If you find the tops are browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminium foil.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
*To make the vegetarian version of Yemista, follow the same process, however, you will have to add a further 1/2 cup of rice.