Gemista – Greek Stuffed Vegetables

Shop Ingredients
Serves 4-6


4 tomatoes
Vegetables to stuff, we used 1 HUGE zucchini (about 1.2kg) but you could use 2 red capsicum, 1 eggplant and a smaller zucchini – whatever you’ve got to hand!
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp of butter or vegan butter
Salt and pepper
1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
Olive oil
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
1 tin chopped tomatoes, or use fresh ones from the glut, peeled and chopped
1/2 a small bunch of parsley, chopped
1/2 a small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
2-3 potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized chunks
Feta cheese, to serve (optional)


This Saturday is PAZOYND (that’s Put a Zucchini on Your Neighbours Doorstep), so you might happen upon a giant zucchini perched against your front door. When you do, we recommend making GIANT gemista. Gemista is a Greek dish of vegetables hollowed out and stuffed with herby, tomato-y rice. It’s a bit of a process but a lovely one for the weekend. In true PAZOYND style, we gifted a plate to our neighbour – getting out into the community and building connections is what it’s all about!

This recipe has been adapted from Eli’s.

Gemista – Greek stuffed vegetables

An important thing to note about this recipe is that it’s likely you’ll have left over filling (it’s a blessing really). Our baking dish wasn’t big enough to fit all the stuffed veggies so we ended up making a side tray (see image below) that we added a cup or so of water to, covered and bunged in the oven at the same time. Check on it a couple of times to see it hasn’t dried out. It won’t be as gorgeous as the main event but it’s certainly yum.

Another important thing to note is that you don’t want to rush the cooking. Leave a good 1.5-2 hours for fully cooked veg, rich rice and delicious browning.

Okay, let’s do it!

Prepare your veg
Slice off the top/stem end of the tomatoes, reserve these for later. Using a spoon, remove the flesh of the tomatoes and reserve for the sauce. Do the same process with the zucch/eggplant. Try and get as much of the flesh out as you can but be careful not to poke through the skin. Cut the flesh of the zucch/eggplant, into small cubes and set aside, as you will use them later for the filling. Compost their stem ends. Cut the tops of the capsicums (if using) and deseed.

Place the empty vegetables in a large, deep baking dish. Season them inside with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter into each one.

Prepare the tomato sauce
In a blender or food processor add the flesh of the tomatoes, 3 tbsp olive oil, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper and blend to combine. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180°C (fan forced)

Prepare the filling
In a saucepan add 3 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Add in the chopped eggplant/zucch and garlic and sauté until softened, about 10 mins. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it has begun soaking up all that yummy flavour and is turning translucent at the edges.

Pour in 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 cup of water and season with salt and pepper. Let the filling come to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 mins – it doesn’t need to fully cook as it will continue to do so in the oven.

Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the fresh herbs, taste and season with some more salt and pepper if needed.

Assemble the Gemista
Spoon the filling inside the empty vegetables, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Add your potatoes, spreading them out in between the vegetables. Spoon the tomato sauce on top the vegetables and pour the remainder in the baking tray. Now pour pour over 2.5 cups of water, we aimed to soak the rice first then poured the remainder around the pan.

Cover the tomatoes and capsicums with their lids. Drizzle olive oil over the whole lot and season with salt and pepper.

Cover the Gemista with aluminium foil and bake for 1.5 – 2 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the aluminium foil and spoon the liquid in the bottom of the tray over the rice to ensure it cooks. Put the tray back in the oven, uncovered and bake until nicely browned – you could crank the oven for the last 15 mins if you’re impatient.

If you like, you can crumble feta cheese on top to serve!



Hints and Tips

What does Gemista mean in English? Gemista or yemista means ‘filled with‘.  The dish is one of the most popular recipes in any Greek taverna and household.


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