Recipe for Greek Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers with Rice

Good morning, my dear friends and readers.

Over the years, I had a lot of messages from you all, asking for more information on the islands I describe in my books (i.e., hotels to stay, places to visit, beaches, etc.) and a lot of questions about the traditional Greek dishes I mention.

Let me start by saying that I was blessed with two amazing cooks in my family—my mother and my grandmother. In addition, I have learned a lot of cooking secrets from my mother-in-law.

I love cooking, and at every place I visit, I make sure that I try the local delicacies and get the recipes. So, I decided to start posting some of those mouth-watering traditional Greek recipes on my blog.

And let’s start with one of my favorite dishes: Greek Gemista (Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers with rice).


Recipe for Greek Gemista (Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers with Rice)


Gemista (meaning ‘filled with’ in Greek) is a popular and delicious traditional Greek recipe.

The recipe for Gemista can be either vegetarian (my family’s preference), where the Gemista are filled with rice, chopped vegetables, and baked in a tomato-based sauce. Or they may contain minced beef or pork.

Gemista falls under the category of Greek dishes called Ladera—dishes prepared with olive oil. So, make sure to use good quality olive oil.

The original recipe does not call for any butter, but I always use a little bit of butter in my cooking for extra flavor. And besides the tomatoes and bell peppers, I also like stuffed potatoes and eggplants. The secret with eggplants is to remove the bitter taste by dipping them in salty water for a while after you cut them and before cooking them.

When tomatoes are in-season, they are the best choice. But you can cook gemista all-year-round by adding some tomato juice to the filling.


Ø  7 tomatoes

Ø  5 green bell peppers (or orange, red, or yellow if you prefer them sweet)

Ø  1 eggplant

Ø  2 to 3 potatoes, cut into wedges

Ø  2 red onions, finely chopped

Ø  1 grated carrot

Ø  1 chopped orange, red, or yellow pepper

Ø  1 cup of rice

Ø  1 can of chopped tomatoes or concentrated tomato juice

Ø  a small bunch of parsley, chopped

Ø  2 tablespoons of butter

Ø  salt or 2 beef broth cubes

Ø  olive oil

Ø  2 slices of toasted bread chopped (optional)

Ø  250 grams (8.8oz) beef mince (optional)


Start by preparing your vegetables. Slice off the top of the tomatoes. Using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Slice the eggplant in two (use half of it grated in the filling and the other half to be stuffed along with the tomatoes and peppers). Try to leave the vegetable with as little flesh as possible but be careful not to poke through their skin. Place the empty vegetables in a large baking tray.

If you want, you can peel a potato, slice off a top part, and, using a spoon remove the inside, leaving thick skin (check out the first photo above where I have included a stuffed potato in my baking tray).

Drain/separate the juice of the tomatoes from the flesh. Add the flesh in a blender and keep the juice to add it to the baking tray. In the blender with the flesh of the tomatoes, add 1 can of chopped tomatoes or concentrated tomato juice, some salt (I prefer 1 beef broth cube instead of salt), 1 tablespoon of butter and mix to combine. I also like to add 2 chopped slices of toasted bread in the blender and mix it with the rest of the ingredients (the bread absorbs the liquids and prevents the filling from being too soggy).

Cook the rice in a pot with water and a touch of salt for about 10 minutes (depending on the type of rice you use). Remove the pot from the burner, drain the rice, and return it to the pot.

In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sauté the chopped onions, the grated carrot, the grated half of the eggplant, and the chopped orange, red, or yellow pepper. If you prefer gemista spiced up with some meat, sizzle the beef mince with the rest of the ingredients. Then, add the chopped parsley.

Empty the ingredients of the blender and the saucepan into the pot with the rice and mix it all together. The filling is ready.

Spoon the filling inside the empty vegetables, filling them by about 2/3rds of the way up (the filling will expand when cooking).

Peel and chop the potatoes in bite-sized chunks. Spread the potatoes in between the vegetables.

Cover the vegetables with their lids and add the juice of the tomatoes, 2 or 3 cups of water (depending on how much tomato juice you have), some olive oil, some salt (or 1 beef broth cube), and 1 tablespoon of butter in the baking tray.

Cover the gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180C  / 350F for about an hour (depending on your oven). Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

The gemista can be served either warm or straight out of the fridge. Just add some salty feta cheese to the melt-in-the-mouth gemista and bon appétit!

Please note that if you like your gemista to taste sweet, use yellow, red, or orange bell peppers. If you prefer a slight bitterness, use green peppers.

In Greece, almost every household has its own recipe for this delicious dish. Feel free to experiment with different types of herbs and spices for the stuffing and make your own amazing Greek Gemista!

I hope you all enjoy this amazing and easy-to-make traditional Greek recipe.

I would love to hear back from you if you have any questions, or just to let me know how your gemista turned out.

Best wishes to all of you, my friends. Stay safe and cherish your loved ones and the moments you spend with them.

Angel Sefer