Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yia Yia's Yemista aka Grandma's Stuffed Peppers

Several months ago I was fortunate enough to meet the virtual acquaintance of another (and lovely) food blogger Devaki, from WeaveThousandFlavors.com. Through her blog, Devaki had a competition for a product from Emile Henry and since we all know I have a bit of a pot (not the type you smoke) addiction, I had to enter! Below is my winning submission as well as pictures of the stuffed peppers in my brand new Emile Henry Brazier, which I won courtesy of Grandma's recipe, Devaki and Emile Henry. For a direct link to her post along with a funny story about the first time I made the stuffed peppers, go to



6 medium to large tomatoes (I say medium to large because some veggies have become gargantuan lately - just buy ones that are large enough to stuff, but not so large that they do not fit in the casserole dish/roaster)(buy four tomatoes you will stuff, and two that are extra ripe ones that will become the sauce)

4 medium green peppers (you can also use round or oblong summer squash)

1 cup of long grain rice

1 lb ground lean beef or turkey meat

1 small red onion chopped

2.5 Tbs chopped parsley

1.5 Tbs finely chopped mint (Note: do not use peppermint, the other kind)(you can also use dry, mint but use half the portion)

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)(this is my addition, but my Grandmother said others in Greece use them too)

2 Teaspoons sugar

¾ Cup olive oil

Kosher salt/pepper

¼ Cup white wine (optional)


First, make sure you have a pan (perhaps an Emile Henry Brazier) that accommodates all the vegetables. Then, cut the tops off the peppers and slice or pull out the core.

Turn 4 of the tomatoes upside down and using a very sharp knife, cut a circular hole, about 2 inches in diameter, in the top of the tomato.

Carefully scoop out the inside of the tomatoes with a small spoon and reserve.

Place the tomatoes and peppers in a baking dish and in each tomato, sprinkle 1/2 tsp of sugar in the interior. This helps if the tomatoes are not super sweet.

Grate the remaining two tomatoes on the large part of a box grater. My grandmother uses this technique when making any tomato base. When feeling lazy I have also been known to pulse them in a food processor or my Vitamix. Also add the cores of the tomatoes that you previously removed and chop any pieces that seem too large, i.e. over an inch.

In a medium sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil and add the onions, sauté until softened and then add the rice. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add the mint, parsley, black pepper and about 1 Tbs of kosher salt. If using white wine, add a splash and stir. Then add one cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid and cook until the water is absorbed. The point is that you are only half cooking the rice because it will absorb additional moisture from the vegetables.

In a medium sauté pan brown the meat, drain any fat, salt and pepper to taste (you can also substitute vegetable or soy protein if you are vegetarian or vegan).

Toast the pine nuts in a smaller pan, stirring frequently since they burn quickly! You can use the same pan you use for the meat, just rinse the pan before you brown the meat.

When the rice is done, add the meat, pine nuts and combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning and get ready to stuff! Note, the rice will still be slightly firm at this point.

Using a small spoon evenly stuff the peppers and tomatoes. Do not overfill or push down the mixture since if you do, they will not cook properly.

Place the tops of the vegetables back on and then pour the tomato puree over them. Add about ½ cup of water evenly throughout the pan. Add a generous amount of olive oil over the vegetables and salt and pepper.

Cook for at least an hour in a 375 degree oven, basting with the juices about every 20 minutes. They will be done when they have burned a little on the tops. Turn the peppers half way through if you placed them at an angle in the pan. I also rotate the entire dish half way through cooking so they brown evenly. If they are browning too quickly and the filling and the rice is not fully cooked yet, add a little extra water and cover with aluminum foil.

Serve with warm crusty bread, feta cheese and olives. Trust me . . . they are good!!!

Kali Orexi!


Devaki said...

YEA!!! KAT - Such a great tribute to a wonderful dish and a lovely pot :)

This looks wonderful and I it is on my list the next time I want to do stuffed peppers.

How fun! I love the pics and the colors. So delish.

I have missed you - where have you been??


Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

Esta said...

Hi Katerina,
My mum actually lightly cooks the peppers before stuffing, this actually makes them sweeter (we do the same to zucchini and eggplants that we stuff). Albeit messier and more time consuming with all that oil splattering about. But it is a tastier pepper.