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Yemista / Stuffed Vegetables

This, this right here is exactly why I tend to not cook with my mum…


Me ‘Mum, I think yemista is a really good recipe to make for my webpage. Do you have any tips or have you made any tweaks recently?’


Mum ‘ah yemista?! I haven’t made them is such a long time. Let’s make them together’


Not quite the response I was looking for but here we are, I couldn’t exactly say ‘no, no thank you, you drive me insane’? And to be quite honest, I’m sometimes too hard on my mum and eventually thought it would be some nice alone time together….how wrong was I?


We decide on a day that works for us both and I head off the buy all the ingredients we needed. I turn up at my mum’s house, shopping bags full and ready to cook. We begin as follows:


Mum ‘before we start, do you want a coffee? I’m starving, I’m making myself a toast’


So we begin by wasting an hour there, having coffee and catching up. Now, to start cooking. As I’m cleaning out the insides of all the veggies laid out in front of me, I hear my mum on the phone to Iris, her older sister.


Mum ‘Iris! Tell me how you make your mince for yemista!?’ Keep in mind the communication method we use is to shout loud.


What? We’ve called Iris, in Cyprus for this? Where’s our recipe and why are we calling Iris? Well, apparently, Iris makes the best yemista and the tip is, she uses the inside of the courgettes and tomatoes (blended) in her mince mix. Fair enough, that is a good tip, but wait, what’s going on now? Oh we’re calling Dia (mums younger sister) to ask the same thing. By the way, these conversations are not 2-3mins each, oh no, we need to ask about everyone and if anything has changed since last night (that was the last phone conversation)


So, everything is in place, let’s begin (2hrs after I have arrived, prepared, or so I thought). Mum begins like the Tasmanian devil, throwing everything together for the mince and placing the veggies in the oven to soften. Looks like I’ve missed something here, she’s already adding the cinnamon and about to throw in the rice. In the meantime, I’m trying to type the ingredients up.


It's all too late, it’s all in the saucepan and she’s bringing everything to the boil, to then lower and simmer. What the hell just happened?! I’ve asked her to slow down and talk me through what she’s just put together, guess what, she doesn’t know. Not only does she not know, she also hasn’t measured anything… she’s really not getting the concept of a cooking blog at all.


Now for the salsa, thrown everything together, have not made enough, needs a top up of everything, doesn’t taste right, I’m exhausted. She’s in her zone and throughly enjoying herself so I sit back and let it all happen. I’ll do this one day myself now that I have the ingredients.



Ingredients

Vegetables

4 Courgettes

3 Peppers

2 Aubergines

6 Large Tomatoes

1 Large Onion

 

Mince

500g Pork Mince

500g Beef Mince

3 Medium Diced Onions

Inside of 6 Tomatoes (processed)

Inside of 3 Courgettes (processed)

1 Vegetable Stock (Grated0

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste

12 Fresh Mint Leaves

1 Tsp Dry Mint

1 Lemon Juice

1/8 Tsp Cinnamon

Generous Handful of Parsley

1 Tsp Salt

Ground Pepper 

60g Basmati Rice

1 Small Cup Water

 

Salsa

1250ml Tomato Juice

20ml Olive oil

1/2 Lemon Juice

1/2-3/4 Tsp Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp Dried Basil

Ground Pepper



Method

Wash all the vegetables, cut the courgettes into thirds and the aubergines into half. Scoop out the insides of all the vegetables leaving an attached ‘base’ on everything. For the, onion you can peel each layer or leave whole and peel later, this may be easier. I use a spray oil in an attempt to keep the calories down and also, I find the spray coats everything more evenly. Place everything in the oven to soften or you can use an air-fryer on bake if you have one.

 

This will take some time so you can start preparing the mince. Take a deep saucepan, spray a few pumps of oil or a splash of olive oil on a medium heat, soften the diced onion. Then place both your mince on a medium heat until it all changes colour, stirring occasionally. Add all your ingredients together, placing everything on high heat bringing everything to the boil to then simmer for 45.minutes.

 

The salsa is very easy, place everything together in a saucer on a medium heat then lower for 10 minutes.

 

Once everything is cooked, you can begin to stuff all your vegetables and place them snuggly into an a reasonably deep oven proof dish. This will keep all the vegetables in shape and prevent them from collapsing.

 

Pour all the salsa over the vegetables and cover with foil. Place in the oven for a further 45 minutes 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6.

 

Once done, leave to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.



Tips

You can boil or fry the veggies to save some time or you can use the bake option on an air fryer.

 

Simmer the mince for 45 minutes to soften, anything less will cause the texture to become tough and rubbery.

 

You can make the mince, prep the vegetables and make the sauce the day before you decide to serve these leaving you to stuff the vegetables and place in the oven for 45 minutes on the day.

 

Keep the tops of your tomatoes so you can close them once stuffed.

 

Any mince left over can be frozen and kept for the next time you attempt to make yemista.

 

Serve with some Greek yogurt, Greek salad, together with crusty bread.



Cost

Cost approximately £25 for 6-8 persons.

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