Traditional Gemista Recipe

Gemista is a traditional Greek recipe for stuffed vegetables that are baked, until soft and nicely browned. This juicy dish bursting with fresh colours and flavours is filled with rice and mince!

Almost every Greek household has its own version and our large sized dish includes zucchini and eggplants, however you can add more or less of each vegetable, depending on your preference. 

  • 15 medium size tomatoes
  • 3 medium zucchinis 
  • 4 red capsicums
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 1 eggplant (cut in half)
  • 2 large potatoes peeled and cut in wedges
  • 500 grams lean beef mince
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of medium grain rice per vegetable 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Using a spoon, scoop out the inside of the tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplant and capsicums. Puree all the fillings with a hand blender until you have a thick liquid. Set aside.

Prepare the stuffing:

-Add olive oil and onion in a large skillet and sauté for a minute. Add  mince and stir till brown. Include the garlic and parsley and mix thoroughly- for about a minute.

-Add the blended vegetable filling, tomato paste, rice, 1/2 cup of water, salt and pepper and stir for a minute. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce- the uncooked rice will begin to absorb the excess liquid as it cooks.

Stuffing the vegetables:

-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

-Assemble the vegetables in a baking dish and use the potato wedges to keep the vegetables upright. 

-Stuff the tomatoes, eggplant, capsicums and zucchini about 3/4 full. Pour the remaining puree in the bottom of the dish and add 1/2 cup of water. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

-Cover with baking paper and aluminium foil. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the vegetables have become tender and cooked through.

-Uncover and then pop back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes on low heat for the vegetables to brown nicely.

*Images and Recipe by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright) 

Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

Greek basil is a highly flavoured and fragrant plant that can be found all over Greece- from remote villages to the most popular islands- it is used in both cooking and as a decorative plant that adds lush greenery to any space. 

It’s quite low maintenance and easy to grow at home, so even if you are a beginner gardener this is a great one to start off with! 

Where and When to Grow Greek Basil 

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

Plant your basil in a place that enjoys full sun. It is great for pots, containers, but can also be planted in the ground. It requires rich soil that retains moisture yet drains well. Also make sure it is in a frost free position. Greek basil is an annual plant and its best to harvest before a cold snap. The size of the leaves on a basil plant will help determine the position you should give it in the garden, the larger the leaf the more shade they require. Tip: Plant your basil near tomato and capsicums to improve growth.

How to Plant and Grow Greek Basil

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

-Prepare soil before planting.

-Plant seedlings after winter has past and the soil has warmed in spring. Seeds can also be planted indoors earlier. 

-Care for your plant by regular watering, pruning and only fertizilize if required. Fertilizing may alter the flavour and aroma, so try and avoid it unless it is needed.

-Harvest when leaves begin to grow on all shoots, starting with the top. 

-Plant reaches maturity in 60-90 days. Be sure to harvest all you need for use and storage before allowing flowers to develop.

Tips & Facts  

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

-Greek basil stores well for later use. Dry it in a cool space by hanging upside down in small bundles. When its dry, store in a tightly sealed glass jar and store in a dark spot. 

-Fresh leaves may be frozen in plastic bags. 

-Greek basil is used in quite a few Greek and Italian recipes and is mostly added to tomato sauce based dishes, pastas and topped fresh on pizza. 

-Greek Basil is packed with vitamins and is high in antioxidants. Ancient Greeks, including Hippocrates “the father of  medicine,” claimed basil is good for the heart, stomach and also helps heal wounds and sores.

*All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)