Gemista are a staple for us. As children, my mom and Giagia would stuff peppers and tomatoes with ground beef and rice but in my own kitchen I've grown accustomed to stuffing the vegetables simply with rice and various herbs.
This time I sauteed the rice with some white wine and added some pine nuts to the mix. The end result was deliciously moist and delectable. Be sure not to overstuff the peppers as the rice needs room to expand--loosely filling the peppers only about 2/3 full should do the trick.
I'd like to think the green of these peppers and the red tomato sauce are in line with the festive spirit of Christmas. Alternate between bright green and shiny red peppers and the dish will be even better.
Gemista (Stuffed Peppers)
6 green peppers
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
3/4 cup rice
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chopped tomatoes
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Pinch of dried mint
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 medium potatoes, peeled, halved and then quartered
Wash the peppers and cut a "cap" from the top of the pepper. Remove seeds and arrange peppers in a baking dish. Season inside of peppers with salt and pepper and drizzle with some olive oil.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and scallion and cook until softened. Stir in pine nuts and rice and heat through for a minute or so. Turn heat to high and stir in the wine. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 1/2 cups of the tomatoes and toss in the herbs. Simmer for a couple minutes longer.
Remove from heat and spoon into the peppers, making sure not to overstuff. Replace caps taking care to fully cover peppers. Pour remaining oil and chopped tomatoes over tops and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 375. Toss the potatoes with additional olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of oregano. Add the potatoes to the baking dish in between the peppers. Dilute the tomato paste in about 1/2 cup water and add to the baking dish, shaking slightly to incorporate the liquid with the oil already in the dish. Bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the potatoes are fork tender and the rice is done. (Add water as necessary if the dish seems to be drying out.)