Gemista: A Greek Stuffed Vegetables with Rice and Ground Meat Recipe

 Every recipe is like a journey! It brings back memories and emotions. Just like Greek gemista me kima which always brings summer memories. After all, what is summer without Gemista me kima? Gemista me kima literally means ‘stuffed with ground beef’! You can try this flavorsome recipe with any vegetable that you can stuff. Tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, or even potatoes. As olive oil is one of the basic ingredients, this Greek food falls under the ladera dishes.

This meat-stuffed tomatoes and peppers dish is a popular summer traditional Greek food! Gemista or yemista (γεμιστά in Greek) is baked stuffed vegetables hollowed out and baked with rice, aromatic herb, and minced meat filling.

Now that summer is here, this is the right time to learn how to make some gemista. To create this heavenly mouthwatering dish, you need tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, ground beef, rice, onions, parsley, Greek olive oil, mint, breadcrumbs, and potatoes.

Full of beautiful summer vegetable colors, this authentic Greek gemista recipe takes around one hour and a half to prepare and one hour to cook. As this recipe serves 5 to 6 persons, be aware as your family will ask for more than just one plate! 

Time to bring summer to our table (and us always to our heart) with this mouthwatering gemista with meat dish!

gemista me kima

Gemista me Kima - Ingredients

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 6 green bell peppers
  • 500 g of ground beef
  • 1½ cups (350 milliliters) of Greek virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) of uncooked short-grain rice
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley leaves (about ½ bunch)
  • 1½ tablespoons of dried mint
  • Sugar, as needed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Rain sounds for sleeping and meditation

Gemista me Kima - Instructions

  1. Start this authentic gemista me kima recipe by washing very well the vegetables under fresh water.
  2. Then, with a sharp knife cut off the tops of the tomatoes and bell peppers and put them aside. 
  3. Take a spoon and remove the seeds and white pith from the bell peppers' insides and throw. 
  4. Scoop out the insides of the tomatoes using a spoon and place in a bowl all of the pulp.
  5. Take a baking dish and place hollow bell peppers and tomatoes. Make sure they snugly fit.
  6. Take a blender and mix the tomato pulp until you get a smooth mixture.
  7. Add about 6 tablespoons of the Greek olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat. 
  8. Add the ground beef and saute it for around 5-6 minutes until it gets a nice golden brown color. 
  9. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until soft and translucent. 
  10. Add the puréed tomato, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. 
  11. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and little liquid remains. Reserve 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce in a small bowl for later. 
  12. With the frying pan still on the heat, add the rice, and stir to coat with tomato sauce. 
  13. Cook the gemista mixture for about 7-8 minutes, frequently stirring it to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 
  14. Take the frying pan off the heat and add the parsley, mint, 1 teaspoon of sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir the ingredients well. Taste the gemista mixture and add salt to taste if required.
  15. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  16. Season the inside of each tomato and green pepper with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. 
  17. Fill each vegetable with the rice and ground meat mixture until three-quarters full, using about 1½ tablespoons of filling. 
  18. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to each, then cover with their reserved caps. 
  19. Brush the outsides of the vegetables with olive oil, and sprinkle them with breadcrumbs.
  20. Add water to the baking dish to reach one-quarter of the height of the vegetables, and add the reserved tomato sauce and the tomato paste to the water.
  21. Bake in the oven for around an hour, or until the tomatoes and bell peppers are baked. Add lukewarm water while baking if the dish goes dry.
  22. Allow the gemista me kima to rest. 
  23. Remove from the oven and serve with Greek feta cheese.
You can enjoy gemista me kima either hot or at room temperature. Enjoy!