Stuffed Italian sweet peppers

Stuffed Italian sweet peppers

Photo and text by Panos Diotis and Mirella Kaloglou

Calories (per serving): 
272
Preparation Time: 
Cooking Time: 

 

Stuffed vegetables ("Gemista" in Greek) is a traditional dish that most of us in Greece eat during the Summer. It's the ideal food for lunch, served after our visit to the beach, along with feta cheese and freshly baked bread on the side.

Sweet italian red peppers, are perfect for stuffing, giving some of their sweetness to the rice filling. This is not the traditional Gemista recipe, but it's a delicious Mediterranean recipe nevertheless; The result is an excellent vegetarian dish!

 

Ingredients: 

- 1,5Kg/3.3lb/53oz sweet Italian peppers
- 300gr/10.5oz (1 1/2 cups) rice (common, long-grain)
- 150gr/5.3oz leeks, cut into thin slices
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 20gr/0.7oz (1 handful) fresh spearmint, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 80ml ( 1/3 cup) olive oil
- 700gr/25oz fresh tomato, grated
- 45ml (3 tablespoons) white wine
- 200gr/7oz Greek graviera(or any other hard yellow cheese you prefer), finely grated (150gr/5.3oz for the filling and 50gr/1.7oz for serving)
- 1 small sweet Italian pepper, finely chopped (for the filling)
- salt and pepper

 

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Preparation: 1. Put the rice and 3 cups of slightly salted water in a medium sized pot, and put it on high heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed. Then, remove from heat and place the rice into a bowl.
Leave it aside to cool and start preparing the rest of the filling; Keep in mind that the rice at this stage is not ready for the recipe yet; it needs the baking that will follow.
2. Remove the tops of the peppers and discard them. In order to remove the seeds and stuff the peppers easily, boil them in slightly salted water for 8-10 minutes. Remove them from the water carefully, so that you don't get burned, and place them under cold running water. Using your hands rinse the peppers to remove any seeds.

 

Put the olive oil in a small pot, on medium to high heat. Place the leeks inside, stir and after a minute add the onions, the garlic and the pepper. 
Sautee for 3-4 minutes and add the wine. When the wine is evaporated we add the tomato.
Cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat and then empty the pot into the bowl with the rice.
Add the spearmint and season -slightly- with salt and pepper. Leave it aside to cool and then add the cheese. Mix with a large spoon.

Start stuffing the peppers using a teaspoon. While stuffing, shake each pepper gently so that the filling will reach the bottom edge. When you get to the top of the pepper, press the filling a bit with the teaspoon to make it a bit more solid. Do not fill the peppers all the way to the top, keep a 0,5-1cm/0.2-0.4inch space, as the filling will expand during baking.
Put them in a baking pan with the tops of the peppers facing the sides of the pan to avoid any filling getting out. Put some olive oil on the peppers and pour 1/2 glass of water into the pan. Put the pan into the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve the peppers, slicing them lengthwise and adding grated cheese. Enjoy!

 

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