The Greeks Call it Yemista- Healthy Comfort Food

Deliciously filled baked vegetables that hit the spot! Yemista as the Greeks call this rich and satisfying meal is perfect for these nippy cold autumn days. For the record, Italians make this too- they call it, Verdura Ripiena (thought I’d add that in, since today’s cook, yours truly, is Italian;)

On that note, my recipe is a mix of both cultures: A Greek delicacy with an Italian flare. I have to warn you, this dish does take a bit of time to make. Here’s my way:

About 12 vegetables

3/4lb minced meat (I use a blend of veal, pork and beef)

2 onions

1 cup rice

salt, pepper, dill to taste, chilli flakes

Pam, a tiny bit of olive oil to drizzle

You can use a variety of different vegetables such as: Zucchini, eggplant, red, green, orange..peppers, yellow zucchini squash, potatoes , tomatoes- basically any vegetable that can easily be hollowed. Today, all I had on hand were tomatoes, red peppers and potatoes.

I usually begin by scraping out the vegetables, while keeping the top for a cap (you’ll see later). Then, all the scrapings are finely chopped and lightly salted.

If you clean out the potatoes first, as I did, you will need to place them in a bowl filled with cold water. This way they won’t turn brown while you work on the other vegetables.

Mix meat, scrapings, rice and onions together. Then, in a large pan, cook the mixture. Add salt, pepper and dill to your liking. If you prefer your dishes on the spicy side (Italian touch), add some chilli flakes, or peperoncino. Keep adding water as the rice swells.

When the whole mixture is consistently cooked (rice should be almost semi cooked), just go ahead and fill up the vegetables.

Place them neatly in a greased pan (I use Pam, but you can also use olive oil). Top them with their caps (helps keep them moist and cook evenly). Add about a ½ cup of water at the bottom of pan. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 175C (325F) for about an hour. The last few minutes, uncover and set on broil – just long enough to get them nicely roasted.

Et voila! Or as the Greeks say: Etima!

Kali Orexi! Buon Appetito!

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