Gemista (or yemista) is a traditional Greek recipe that’s bursting with fresh flavours and colours. It’s sometimes made with minced meat in Greece but in my opinion it’s perfectly suited to being meat-free because then the flavours of the wonderful vegetables and aromatic herbs shine through. There are hundreds of gemista recipes in Greece - almost every family has their own take on it. But this vegan version, with the addition of fragrant capers, the bite of the toasted almonds, and the hearty puy lentils, just takes it to another level.
This is by far my favourite gemista recipe because it’s also so easy. You don’t even need to boil the rice first, there’s plenty of moisture in the vegetables and filling mixture to cook the rice in the oven, plus that way it absorbs even more of the delicious flavours!
Don’t forget to check out the nutrition info at the end of the post too because this vegan gemista recipe packs over a third of your recommended protein intake and around half your daily iron. And that’s before you add any salad or other sides like this gigantes plaki (Greek giant butter beans in a rich tomato sauce).
Vegan Gemista Recipe (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes)
Ingredients (serves 3):
3 bell peppers
3 large ripe tomatoes
4 Tbsp almonds
100g uncooked medium-grain rice
1 x 250g pack pre-cooked puy lentils
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small carrot, finely chopped
Handful fresh mint, chopped
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
2 tsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp tomato puree
Preheat your oven to 180C (360F)
Roughly chop your almonds then lightly toast them in a small frying pan for a few minutes without any oil, until they start to smell fragrant. Remove from the heat.
While the almonds are cooling, cut the tops off the peppers and tomatoes. De-seed the peppers and discard the seeds. Scoop out the inside of the tomatoes using a spoon, the chop up the tomato flesh and add to a large mixing bowl, with any juices.
Add the toasted almonds and all the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl, and stir thoroughly to combine.
Arrange the hollowed out peppers and tomatoes snugly on a baking tray or dish, then spoon the filling into the vegetables, until level with the cut. Put the tops back on the vegetables, place the tray / dish in the oven, and bake for 60-70 minutes until the rice is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and tender.
This vegan gemista is best served warm rather than hot, and goes brilliantly served with just a simple green salad and with these gigantes plaki (Greek tender butter beans stewed in a rich tomato sauce) for a Greek ‘mezze’ style dinner!
Nutrition (per serving):
Protein: 19.3g (Women: 38.6% / Men: 35.1%)
Iron: 6.5mg (Women: 43.9% / Men: 74.7%)
Calories: 556 (Women: 27.8% / Men:22.2%)
Sugars: 17.3g (Women: 19.2% / Men: 14.4%)
Total Fats: 24.1g (Women: 34.4% / Men: 25.4%)
Saturated Fat: 3.2g (Women: 16.0% / Men: 10.7%)
Salt: 0.5g (Women: 8.3% / Men: 8.3%)
Fibre: 16.3g (Women: 54.3% / Men: 54.3%)
See the Nutrition Info page for more details on % of Dietary Reference Values for men and women.