Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes)

Gemista are Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes (and other vegetables) that are filled with rice and fresh herbs and baked in a tomato sauce. This classic Greek dish can be made with ground meat or without for a vegan option.

Visit any Greek restaurant whether in Greece or abroad, and you are sure to find gemista on the menu. This traditional dish is easily one of the most popular Greek meals and it comes as no surprise. Who can resist plump, fresh vegetables stuffed with an herby rice filling?

“Gemista” means “filled with” in Greek as that is exactly what these are. They are packed with flavour.

The beauty of this dish comes from its simple, but fresh ingredients. While the recipe takes some time to bake in the oven, it is pretty easy to make and most of the recipe time is hands-off.

Baked gemista in a baking dish set on a marble countertop.

Growing up, gemista was something my mom made often. It’s a dish that was on regular rotation, eaten throughout all the seasons. In the winter, the hearty dish was comforting, warming us up like a hug from the inside. I especially loved eating gemista in the summertime when the garden was producing loads of vegetables for us to stuff!

While tomatoes and peppers are staples when making gemista and are what I used in this recipe, we also used other veggies like eggplant and zucchini. Feel free to adapt this recipe and use up all of your favourite veggies!

Closeup of baked stuffed pepeprs and tomatoes in a baking dish.

Why you should make Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes:

  • It’s delicious!

  • This recipe is easy to make!

  • It is a complete meal in one pan.

  • It’s a healthy, hearty meal.

  • You can make this recipe for meal prep.

  • It’s a great freezer meal (see below for freezing instructions).
A stuffed tomato and stuffed pepper on a plate with roasted potatoes.

Ingredients in Gemista

  • Veggies for stuffing: Bell peppers and tomatoes are the most popular veggies used for gemista but you can also use zucchini and eggplant.

  • Other veggies: Potatoes, onions and garlic. Onions and garlic add flavour to the filling. Potatoes are arranged in the pan to cook alongside the stuffed vegetables for a complete, all-in-one meal.

  • Olive oil: Use good quality olive oil.

  • Ground beef: You can omit this to make this a vegan recipe.

  • Rice: long grain rice is preferable but any white rice works for this recipe. You can also make this recipe with brown rice but if you do, I recommend par-boiling it first as brown rice takes longer to cook.

  • Tomato sauce

  • Seasoning: Salt, pepper and herbs including parsley, basil, mint and dried oregano

Note: For ingredient quantities and full instructions, go to the recipe card at the end of the post.

How to make Gemista

1. Prepare the vegetables by cutting off the tops and scooping out the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon. Remove the seeds from the inside of peppers.

2. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and oregano and toss together. Arrange the potato wedges around the vegetables.

Photo collage showing how to prepare the vegetables for gemista.

3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

4. Add the ground beef and brown it, breaking up any large pieces as it cooks.

5. Once the meat is browned, add the fresh herbs, rice, and half of the tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Photo collage showing how to prepare the filling for gemista.

6. Scoop the filling into the vegetables and place the vegetable tops back on top.

Closeup of a pepper stuffed with rice and ground beef in a baking dish.

7. Drizzle the vegetables with more olive oil (optional) and season the outsides with salt and pepper. Add the remaining tomato sauce.

Stuffed Gemista Before Baking

8. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the vegetables have softened the rice filling is cooked.

A plate with gemista (stuffed pepper and tomato) and roasted potatoes set on a marble countertop.

Can you make gemista in advance?

Gemista can be made in advance, meaning you can make this recipe for meal prep! You can either assemble the gemista completely and then store it in the fridge (unbaked and covered with plastic food wrap). When you are ready to bake later that day or the next day, its already assembled for you.

I personally think gemista taste better the next day so I recommend baking the whole recipe in advance and then storing it in the fridge for the next day. That means all you have to do is heat up as much as you need for dinner (and its actually tastier, I think)!

How to store and reheat Gemista

Once cooled, leftover gemista can be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for a few days. To reheat, place them in a pan with a few tablespoons of water. Cover the pan with foil and reheat in the oven at 350F until warmed through. Reheating in the oven is the best method but, if you are in a rush, you can microwave them as well, though they do become considerably softer with this method.

Closeup of a stuffed pepper and potatoes on a plate.

Can you freeze Gemista?

Gemista can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for a few months. Ensure they are stored in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. To reheat them, allow the gemista to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then use the method described above to reheat them in the oven.

What to serve with Gemista

Gemista is a delicious, hearty meal eaten on its own or you can serve it up with a nice salad like a Greek Salad, Radish Cucumber Salad, or Cucumber Feta Salad.

Gemista is also great served alongside feta cheese and a nice, crusty bread.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

-Cathy

Closeup of a baked tomato stuffed with ground beef and rice and topped with fresh basil.

You may also like:

Papoutsakia (Greek Stuffed Eggplant)
Dolmades (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Pastitsio

Baked gemista in a baking dish set on a marble countertop.

Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes)

Herbs and Flour
Gemista are Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes (and other vegetables) that are filled with rice and fresh herbs and baked in a tomato sauce. This classic Greek dish can be made with ground meat or without for a vegan option.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 55 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Greek
Servings 8
Calories 389 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 bell peppers and/or tomatoes
  • 2-4 potatoes cut into wedges (use as many potatoes as you can fit in your pan around the vegetables)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for drizzling over dish before it bakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground beef (omit to make this a vegan recipe)
  • 1 cup rice uncooked and rinsed
  • 1 jar tomato sauce divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup mint
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley and basil

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Prepare the vegetables by cutting off the tops and scooping out the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon. Remove the seeds from the inside of peppers.
  • Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and oregano and toss together. Arrange the potato wedges around the vegetables.
  • In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.
  • Add the ground beef and brown it, breaking up any large pieces as it cooks.
  • Once the meat is browned, add the fresh herbs, rice, and half of the tomato sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Scoop the filling into the vegetables and place the vegetable tops back on top.
  • Drizzle the vegetables with more olive oil (optional) and season the outsides with salt and pepper. Add the remaining tomato sauce.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the vegetables have softened the rice filling is cooked.

Nutrition

Calories: 389kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 15gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 451mgPotassium: 943mgFiber: 6gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 4175IUVitamin C: 171mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 3mg
Keyword greek food, ground beef, rice, stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




*