Greek Essentials: A Trio of Stuffed Peppers

One of my first experiences with Greek food was “Yemista”. It is a term used for all stuffed vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchinis and peppers are the most common. My personal favorite are the peppers. The addition of minced beef and raisins with the rice turns this common vegetable dish into something magical. The trick is to par the rice before you bake it in the oven. The time consuming task of filling each peppers is rewarded with the first bite.

What you need:

  • 1/2 kilo ground beef
  • 1-1.5 cups of rice (this depends on how big your peppers are)
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 8 medium sized peppers ( I prefer the red ones because they are sweeter) 
  • 1/2 cup rasins 
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of white wine (optional) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • Olive oil to drizzle on top 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
How it’s done:

  • In a saute pan, fry the onions in a little olive oil until they are soft but not brown
  • Add the beef to the onions and brown thoroughly
  • Add the bay leaf and the wine and simmer until completely reduced
  • In a separate bowl mix the rice, tomato paste, oregano, paprika and the raisins 
  • Add the rice mixture to the beef and simmer it with most of the water (topping up if it looks like it is getting to dry)
  • Simmer for 10-15 min until the rice is almost finished
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • While the rice is simmering take each of the peppers and cut a little off the bottom to allow it to stand on its own
  • Cut off each top about half an inch down and remove the seeds, keeping the top as a lid
  • Preheat oven to 400F or 200C
  • Place the peppers in a oven-proof dish making sure they all fit tight so they don’t fall over
  • When the rice is done, fill each of the peppers with the rice mixture.
  • Replace the pepper lids on top and drizzle with olive oil
  • Bake for about 45 min or until the peppers are cooked through  
This dish could be served alone or with your choice of meat. Enjoy!
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