Gemista is a homey Greek dish that’s easy to make, makes for scrumptious leftovers, and is packed with delicious dill and Greek spices. Every Greek household has their own version – we’ve kept ours vegetarian using tomatoes and peppers, plus lots of authentic dill-iciousness.
What is gemista (Greek stuffed tomatoes)?
Gemista literally translates to “stuffed” and is a staple Greek dish, made most commonly using nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.
The veggies are stuffed with rice, sometimes include other vegetables like zucchini and eggplant, may include ground meat, and are baked alongside rice and sometimes potatoes.
Our household version is vegetarian and keeps it pure and simple using ingredients you likely already have on-hand: Tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and spices, and baked with rice.
What’s in gemista?
Gemista traditionally includes vegetables, rice, potatoes, and sometimes ground meat. Our vegetarian version includes:
- Bell peppers (green, red, yellow, or orange)
- Chicken stock
- Arborio rice
- White wine
- Onion and garlic
- Olive oil
- Dill and oregano
- Optional: zucchini
You can really mix and match up what you stuff your veggies with! We like adding zucchini in the stuffing, and many also include eggplant.
If you’d like to make a meat version, simply add 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef seasoned with oregano, salt, and pepper.
What to eat with gemista
Serve gemista with your favorite Greek side dishes or eat on its own with pita bread and feta cheese! Some popular side dishes:
- Baba ganoush
- Feta cheese
- Greek salad
- Gluten-free bread
Easy Gemista (Greek Stuffed Tomatoes)
- 5-6 large tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers (green, red, yellow, or orange)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 bunch fresh dill or 3 tsp dried dill weed, to taste
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1.5 cup short-grain rice (arborio or sushi rice)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 cup water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper to taste
- 1 cup zucchini, finely chopped optional
- 1 tsp coconut sugar optional, to sprinkle on tomato
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
- Wash your veggies. Starting with the tomatoes, cut the tops (“hats”) off, leaving a 1.5” edge so they stay intact. Note: this is mainly for aesthetics and tracking whose hat belongs to which tomato, don’t worry if they get removed entirely!
- Cut the tops entirely off of the peppers and discard the membranes and inner seeds.
- Use a small spoon to gently remove the innards of the tomatoes, leaving some of the outer and bottom membranes intact. Put all the innards, juices, and seeds into a bowl - you’ll use this in the filling.
- Optional: Sprinkle some sugar on the inside edges and tops of the tomatoes.
Rice filling prep
- Chop a large onion finely and finely mince the garlic.
- Heat up a large pot with 1/4c olive oil, then saute your onion/garlic mixture for 4-5 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze for another 2 minutes. Season with salt/pepper.
- While it’s cooking, throw your tomato innards into a blender to puree them.
- Add the tomato puree, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and parsley into the onion/garlic mixture. Season with more salt, pepper, oregano, and half the dill. Let it simmer for 5-8 mins until liquid is reduced.
- Optional: Add finely chopped zucchini and simmer for another 2 minutes
- Add 1.5c rice to the tomato mixture, along with 2T olive oil, more salt and pepper, and the rest of the dill. Add 3c water and/or chicken stock (use 2x rice amount). Let it simmer on low for 5-8 mins to thicken.
- In a large Pyrex pan, coat bottom and sides with olive oil.
- Place your tomatoes and peppers into the dish. Fill the tomatoes and peppers until almost full with the rice mixture. Then top off with their "hats."
- With the leftover rice, arrange it evenly around all the vegetables in your dish.
- Add water to fit about 1/4 to 1/2 of the dish. Be sure not to fill over your veggies!
- Drizzle olive oil on top of the veggies and over the rice.
- Cook at 400°F for about 1 hour 5 mins to 1 hour 15 minutes, until veggies are soft and rice is bubbling.
- Optional: At the 20 minute mark, do a quick oven check and tap down gently on the tomatoes to release some steam and ensure the rice doesn’t overflow.
- Enjoy hot with feta and gluten-free bread!
- If you don’t have white wine or chicken stock, you can skip both! They add more flavor to the dish, but your gemista will still be delicious without them.
- If you only have long-grain rice (e.g. Jasmine rice or basmati rice), you can still use it instead of short-grain rice. We've done it plenty of times - the rice will simply be softer and a bit mushier.
- You can skip pureeing the tomato innards if you're short on time, but it does give for a better tomato flavor and consistency.
- When it comes to spices, add in more dill, oregano, or other spices you prefer as you’d like.
- To make a meat version, season 1 lb ground beef with oregano, salt, pepper, and pan fry until almost done. Then, add to the rice filling mixture and stuff into your veggies.
Serving Size 1/2 a tomato or pepper
Servings Per Container 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148 Calories from Fat 84.6
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.4g 14%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 7%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 262.6mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 14.2g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2.9g 12%
Protein 2.4g 5%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Did you try this recipe?
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