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Inside-Out Yemista

Posted Sep 27 2010 12:00am

“Eat vegetables and fear no creditors, rather than eat duck and hide.” ~ Hebrew proverb

This past weekend, the New York Times published an article by Kim Severson about why, even in the face of the greatest availability of healthy options we’ve ever had, we are still not eating a healthy diet: “Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries”. Shame on us!!

Thus, continues my quest to search out fast, easy ways to prepare attractive entrées that help us meet our veggie goals. Participating in Meatless Monday is an opportunity to say, “One day each week, we’re going to try a new recipe that will be good for our bodies, our budget, and the health of the planet.” We might even find that we like it!

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Yemista dish at a Greek restaurant, then you know that it is a name for a variety of vegetables stuffed with a mixture of small chopped vegetables, potatoes, and rice, which are then baked. Very, very nice.

Taking some liberty with the name, we combined the ingredients to get the same flavors, but eliminated the labor intensive stuffing and time-heavy baking. We put our “stuffing” mixture on top of baked potatoes, but it is equally good and a little more nutritious on top of a bowl of brown rice.

Inside-Out Yemista

Serves 2 as main dish, 4 as side dish
Time: about 30 minutes

2 medium baking potatoes, whole
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 large mushrooms, chopped
OR one small can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Course salt and ground black pepper

Baba ganoush or sour cream (optional garnish)
Pitted Kalamata olives, quartered (optional garnish)
Chopped chives (optional garnish)

Cook the whole, scrubbed potatoes in any way you like until they are soft. I put mine into the steamer, which takes about 30 minutes, or the microwave oven for 8-10 minutes (don’t forget to pierce the skin). If you prefer to use the regular oven, bake at 400° F for 45 – 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, begin cooking the onion in the olive oil over medium heat. When it has softened but not browned, add the remaining vegetables, chickpeas, and oregano. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Split the potatoes lengthwise into quarters and fan them out onto each plate. Top with a generous portion of the vegetable mixture.

Garnish with Baba Ganoush (another serving of veggies!) or sour cream and sprinkle with olives and chives to turn this dish into edible art.

For those who are interested in reducing or eliminating meat from their diet, have a look at our book, MOSAIC MEALS . The recipes in it show the reader how to make one dish that can have meat applied in whatever degree the individual wishes – or not at all – to make life a little easier and a lot healthier.

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