My husband and I love Greek food. We've been enthralled with Greek flavors for years now, but enthrallment turned to obsession after eating at a fabulous little Greek restaurant in Salt Lake City. The only thing that keeps me from cooking Greek food more is time. When I do make a Greek meal, we savor every morsel.
Last night I made an early Valentine meal for my husband - yemista, aka Greek Stuffed Peppers. My husband and I both really enjoyed these stuffed peppers. The kids thought this dish was only so-so. They both ate the stuffing without complaint, but neither were thrilled with the dish. I'm ok with that. Their little taste buds were challenged with something new, and they didn't balk at it - a success in itself. We will have this meal again (and again), and hopefully the kids will warm up to it.
This dish takes a little time, but it is really very easy to prepare. I stuffed bell peppers exclusively, but you could also stuff tomatoes, zucchini, or eggplant. If you stuff a vegetable with an edible inside (like a tomato), save the scooped out pulp and add it to your stuffing.
8 bell peppers 2 TBSP olive oil 6 green onions, finely chopped 1 1/3 cup long grain white rice 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 cup seedless raisins 1/2 cup pine nuts 3/4 cup diced tomato (canned or fresh) about 2 1/2 cups water salt and pepper to taste 4 TBSP chopped parsley 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint
To prepare the bell peppers, slice off the tops and scoop out and discard the seeds and ribs. Save the top; it will be a lid for the peppers after stuffing.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large skillet, heat 1 TBSP of the olive oil and add the onions. Cook for about a minute, then stir in the rice, garlic, cinnamon, raisins, pine nuts, and the tomatoes. (If you're using vegetables other than bell peppers, stir in the reserved scooped out insides now.) Add enough water to cover the rice and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender and the majority of the liquid has been absorbed. You can add more water while the rice is cooking if necessary.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the parsley and mint. Remove the filling from the heat. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice filling and place the tops on each pepper. Arrange the vegetables in a large roasting pan and pour in enough water to just cover the base of the pan.
Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the peppers and back for 50-60 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve warm or cold.
If you ever have the opportunity to eat at Aristo's in Salt Lake City, jump on it! Don't be afraid to take the kids. They are family friendly with a nice kid's menu with kid-friendly Greek fare. My daughter loves their kephtedes (aka Greek meatballs) and my son loves their pasta with feta cheese. Your kids will expand their taste horizons without even knowing it!