Yemista is a dish that is often made in the summer because of the readily available and fresh tomatoes and peppers. When we make this dish, it is usually in a large quantity so we have leftovers (they taste so much better the next day). Considered a “lathero” food, it is cooked with a lot of oil that is great for dipping bread.
6 tbsp olive oil
6-7 small tomatoes (or 4 large ones)
1 cup chopped fresh onion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 kg ground veal and/or beef
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp salt
4-6 small potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups short grain rice (Italian)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: this recipe makes enough food for 4 to 6 people with leftovers, or 8 to 10 people in one setting.
Clean the pepper by removing any upper stems and cutting a hole in the top of the pepper. Remove any glands on the inside of the pepper and cut the placenta attached to the pepper’s top. Remove any seeds on the placenta by rubbing with your thumb under cool water. Rinse out the hollowed pepper to remove any seeds. Place the placenta aside as it will be chopped for the filling. Place the hollowed pepper in a baking dish.
Slice the top off the tomatoes and hollow out using a spoon. Roughly chop the tomato meat removed and set aside. Place the hollowed tomatoes in the baking dish with the peppers.
Finely chop the pepper placenta, garlic, parsley, and fresh onion. Place in a pot with 6 tablespoons olive oil and salt. Grate the zucchini and add to the pot. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are wilted. Note that the zucchini will release moisture – you do not need to reduce this moisture as it will help cook the rice that is added later on. Once wilted, add the meat and continue cooking until meat is thoroughly cooked (approximately 5-10 minutes). Add tomato meat and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar. Remove the mixture from heat and add the rice, stirring to combine all ingredients.
Using a tablespoon, fill each vegetable with mixture loosely (do not pack in) to almost the top. Ensure to place some liquid with the mixture in each vegetable. Once you have finished filling the vegetables, add the potatoes into the pot and stir so they are coated with any remaining juices. Salt and pepper to taste. Place the potatoes between the vegetables where space permits. Drizzle the remaining oil over all the vegetables and potatoes. Season with additional salt and pepper.
Cook for 1 hour. Check to see if peppers are cooked by forking the side (if it goes in easily, they are done).