I love how most Greeks here have their own vegie patch.. Rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers, hot peppers, eggplants and the compulsory greek basil in their pots.. My parents are lucky enough to have wonderful friends here who set up our house before they arrive. Tsamourias planted the veggies, Olga organized Evangeline’s bedroom and dad who arrived 2 months before we did built an outdoor kitchen, verandah and set up Evangeline’s playground.
Before my mum arrived, I had the pleasure and job of cooking for Dad, his friends, my brother & Evangeline. Which as you know I love…However mum has arrived and it’s a bit difficult to get into the kitchen as being the greek mumma that she is, has the tendency of taking over and knowing best! Mum is a great cook and I have learnt a lot and still learning, but there are things that I do differently. I love my spices, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, chili etc She doesn’t… I think I may have taken after my dad’s side of the family in that department, having come from Asia Minor…
One dish I cooked before she arrived was the summer favourite gemista. I made these only with peppers as our neighbour gave me a bagful of them from his garden.
GEMISTA (STUFFED TOMATOES AND PEPPERS)
15 small green peppers
1 cup rice
500g minced beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup parsley, minced
1/2 cup of mint
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste salt and pepper
250g processed tomatoes
- Cut off tops of peppers (retain tops) and remove seeds
- Place tomatoes and peppers in an oven pan large enough
- Saute onion and mince in olive oil until meat has cooked through. Add processed tomatoes, rice, tomato paste, coriander, salt, pepper and ½ cup water. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more if your require.
Add the mixture in the pre prepared peppers taking care not to break them and add their tops. Add the remaining water around the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake it in a preheated oven for around 1 hour or until the vegetables are cooked. I took mine out at 1 hour and vegetables were soft but still had a bit of a bite to them. If I had left them for another 15-20 minutes they would have softened up completely. This is how they are usally eaten. To be honest I didn’t mind taken out at 1 hour. You could really taste the capsicum.
Eat hot or at room temperature. Fantastic with feta cheese and crusty bread.
The rice is al dente and has soaked up most of the water etc. Ready for stuffing!
I placed a bit of the processed tomatoes on top as well just before baking.
Kali orexi (bon appétit for those who don't know!)
Must get in a couple of hours sleep...I'm off to see the spunky Ploutarhos in concert tonight!!