It is that time of year, fall harvest and comfort food.
One of our family’s favorite Greek dishes is Yemista (stuffed vegetables). Warm, flavor-filled, true-to-life comfort food.
Some of my crew love just peppers, some prefer tomatoes and me? I love eggplant and zucchini. So, depending on the mood I am in, I will do a mix of all or just focus on one particular veggie. I recently had a request from my boys for this tried and true dish – and thought it was getting to be the perfect time to make it. Veggies are abundant right now in farmer’s markets and grocery stands – why not take advantage of great prices, rainy weather and hungry tummies!
I’d love to share my recipe for Yemista with you – but keep in mind, I cook a lot like my mother – and her mother before her – a little of this, a touch of that, taste, re-taste and re-season. Cook with love, cook from what you like – you can’t go wrong. A little more or a little less of your favorites, you’ll do just fine.
4 medium sized tomatoes
4 bell peppers – any color, though green is typical
1 medium sized eggplant
**Note, you’re going to cook this all in one pan, so make sure you’ve got a pan that will fit all the veggies you’re using. If you end up with extra filling, don’t worry, you can bake it on the side with a little liquid – or just make two pans worth!
1 large or 2 medium onions – sweet ones work better
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch parsely
1 lb ground beef (I love using fresh ground from my friend Margie at the Grand Butcher – yum!)
¼ cup water
1 cup chopped carrot
1 can tomato sauce – divided – a personal favorite is Dei Fratelli
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 ½ cups rice
Sauce for top:
Remaining ¼ cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
Dash of olive oil
½ cup water
Wash your veggies, cut the tops for the zucchini and eggplant hollow out the inside but not all the way through so you have a base. You’re creating room in each veggie for the filling. Take the insides of everything and put in a food processor pulse into puree. Place on the side.
In a pan sauté onions with olive oil on medium heat.
Add chopped parsley, sauté until soft
Then add 1 pound fresh ground beef, adding ¼ cup water to help breakdown the ground beef, let it brown.
Add carrots and your veggie “guts” (your puree) then add carrots, puree and tomato sauce, reserving ¼ cup for the last step.
Add salt and pepper.
Let all of these flavors come together for about 20 min. This is where the “low and slow” method proves its deliciousness. The marriage of the flavors will take time. Grab a glass of wine, go like our posts on Facebook, go find us on Instagram….you get the picture.
Once you feel the flavors have combined well, add rice. This process should have taken about 30 minutes.
Now it is time to fill the veggies with all this love, but before you do that salt your veggies slightly. I love using sea salt for all my cooking but regular is fine too.
Fill them up to the tops – placing them upside down (open end down) in the pan. It keeps the filling in!
Once you fill them all up you might have some spaces in between. I don’t like them expanding or moving around, so if I have extra veggie pieces or a red skin or Yukon gold potato, I slice that up and squeeze it in.
With your remaining ¼ cup of tomato sauce, add ketchup – and some pepper with a dash of olive oil. Take a spoon and spread it on the veggies. Pour over ½ cup water and cover your pan with foil. Bake 1 hour at 375*. Remove foil, bake 30 minutes more and you’ll have amazing tasting YEMISTA!