Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
Also known as Gemista, these Stuffed Tomatoes come out deliciously juicy, tender and baked to perfection. The combination of vegetables and herbs in the filling gives this dish the most amazing flavor.
The very first time we ever tried this dish was on our vacation to Greece in the summer of 2019. We have ordered stuffed tomatoes as an appetizer and could not believe how flavorful, tender and absolutely delicious they tasted. One look at the ingredients and we knew we would definitely try to recreate this dish when we got home. This dish is naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan. After some research, we found a lot of the recipes online contain also meat, but in Greece, none of the restaurants we have been to served the stuffed tomatoes with meat, maybe is the region or not, but to us, this dish traditionally is vegetarian and vegan. Best time to make this dish is, of course, when tomatoes are at their peak, perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy. Having the best tasting tomatoes will yield an incredible tasty and flavorful dish. For the filling we went with the traditional: onions, carrots, celery, rice and dill but also decided to add some mushrooms and pine nuts for even more flavor! Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients here and steps, the preparation takes no more than 20-30 minutes and after 1.5 hours of baking time you will have very flavorful, delicious and tender stuffed tomatoes. This recipe will not disappoint! It is stunning and filling enough to be served as an entree, but will also make a wonderful side dish as well!
Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 cup of short rice (sushi rice)
- 2 cups of hot water
- 6 tomatoes
- 6-8 pcs of baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
- 2 tbsp dill, chopped
- 1/4 red onion
- 1/4 cup water
- Soak the rice: Rinse the rice over running water. Place it in a bowl and add hot water on top. Cover with a lid and let sit around 10 min. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F.
- Make the filling: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots and celery, saute until soft stirring occasionally, around 5-7 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, add chopped mushrooms and ⅔ of chopped tomato pulp (see step 4) and cook for another 5 min. Turn off the heat, season with salt, pepper, add the soaked rice, pine nuts and dill. Mix everything very well.
- Meanwhile prepare the tomatoes. Cut the top of the tomatoes and set aside, we will use them later. Using a paring knife, carefully go around the tomato edges to loosen the pulp. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp from the tomatoes. Chop the pulp finely, we will use ⅔ for the filling and the remaining will go on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Prepare a baking dish large enough for the tomatoes to fit. Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom. Create a bed for the tomatoes by spreading the remaining ⅓ of chopped tomato flesh and sliced red onions on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange the 6 tomatoes shells on the bed and sprinkle some salt on top.
- Spoon the filling inside the tomatoes all the way to the top and cover with the tomato tops. Pour ¼ cup of water in one corner of the baking dish and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for around 45-50 min or until rice is fully cooked. Uncover the tomatoes and bake for an additional 20-25 min. During baking, check the water level and add more if needed. Serve and enjoy!
- The tomatoes might break during baking which is normal. This is the main point of this dish, to have the stuffed tomatoes cook very well so all the flavors blend together.
- If you would like, you can stuff a couple of bell peppers along with the tomatoes.
- Time saving tip: the filling can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature when ready to use.
- Make it Nut Free: omit the pine nuts
- The leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days. The next day, this dish tastes even better!
- Serving suggestions: This dish is so delicious it can be served both as an entree and as a side. Pair it with a green salad, the chickpea meditteranean salad or with a grilled fish.