«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs

We’ve talked about “GEMISTA” before, which are all those different mediterranean and/or greek versions of stuffed vegetables, sometimes vegetarian and sometimes not. This partcicularly green bell pepper version is my favorite, stuffed with beef and rice and a larger mix of different grated vegetables inside, with more fresh herbs, spices and a simple broth made with the leftovers, to acccentuate and link the overall flavors.

Too much attention is focused on red peppers which are sweeter. Waiting all that extra time for them to change from green to yellow, then orange and finally red. For me, nothing compares to that fresh flavor of green peppers, whether in sandwiches, salads, dips and other prepared dishes. I should simply roast green peppers all summer long and store them in oil and vinegar since prepared red roasted peppers are inexpensive and available everywhere, all year long. 

Many restaurants in Greece as well as a few traditional greek restaurants outside Greece, display this large dish directly in its baking dish, in their display counter, alongside other prepared dishes that time a long time to cook. What you basically see in the display counter is everything that is oven-baked and prepared fresh that same day and also how much is left of that dish, if you’d like to order some for yourself, whether to be enjoyed at the restaurant or taken away, like from a caterer, to be enjoyed in your own home instead. I’ve always appreciated that approach of “here is what is available and fresh today” and “if there isn’t enough today, because many other people ordered it too, then pass by again tomorrow for a fresh new batch”. 

This recipe is made up of 4 parts : the green bell peppers to contain the stuffing; the stuffing that is made with more grated green pepper as well as hints of carrot, fennel, celery, the crushed tomatoes, many fresh and dried herbs and spicesas well as the rice; a simple broth, made up of all the vegetable, herb stalks and meat remains (if grinding your own meat) to give the rice the liquid needed to expand; the potato wedges that suck up the extra juices and hold the stuffed peppers in place and upright.

It’s a very straightforward recipe requiring one deep pan for the stuffing and one large baking dish or roasting pan for the oven-baking and if you have a baking dish with a lid, it’s even better and you could avoid using the aluminum foil altogether to seal the dish.

By the way, “GEMISTA” means “STUFFED” and even though the portions seem lower in weight or smaller, the dish is extremely filling for 4 servings and could actually serve and satisfy 5 or 6 people too and thus everybody’s stomachs will equally be stuffed ... :)

«gemista» stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef & rice & herbs


4 servings x 375 grams


green bell peppers :

  • 1 kg (6 large or 8 medium or 12 small) green bell peppers, whole (to be stuffed)
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 7,5 grams (½ tbsp) sea salt
  • 150 grams (1 medium) green pepper, grated (to add to the stuffing)

stuffing : 

  • 350 grams (1 ½ cups) ground beef (15-20% fat content)
  • 175 grams (¾ cup) round rice, well-rinsed & strained
  • 175 grams (1 medium or ¾ cup) onion, grated
  • 50 grams (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) carrot, grated
  • 37 grams (¼ cup) fennel bulb, grated
  • 25 grams (2 tbsp) celery, grated
  • 15 grams (2-3 medium or 1 ½ tbsp) cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400 grams (1 can or 1 ¾ cups) crushed tomatoes 
  • 90 ml (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 120 ml (¼ cup + ¼ cup) water or vegetable broth (preferably home-made broth made with all the vegetable & herb & meat leftovers)
  • 7,5 grams (½ tbsp) fine sea salt
  • 1 gram (2 whole) bay leaves
  • 3 grams (1 tbsp) dried oregano
  • 1 gram (½ tsp) black and/or green peppercorns, ground 
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) allspice peppercorns, ground
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) coriander seeds, ground
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) fennel seeds, ground
  • 10 grams (4 tbsp) fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped  
  • 5 grams (2 tbsp) fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2,5 grams (1 tbsp) fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

potatoes :

  • 300 grams (4 small) potatoes, cut into 4 wedges each, peeled or unpeeled
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 7,5 grams (½ tbsp) sea salt
  • 0,5 gram (¼ tsp) pepper, ground
  • 0,5 gram (½ tsp) dried oregano


  • slice off the top of each bell pepper, remove seeds and membranes and reserve,  brush the outsides and insides of the bell peppers and their caps with the 2 tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with ½ tbsp of salt and place in a baking pan
  • remove the seeds and membranes of the green bell pepper for the stuffing, reserve the extras for the broth 
  • grate the extra bell pepper, the onion, the carrot, the fennel and the celery, pick the leaves of the herb stalks and reserve all these extras for the broth
  • make a broth with 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp vinegar and all the extra remains and cuttings of the vegetables and herb stalks to be used (and if you are grinding your own beef, add the bones too) and add a bay leaf and some peppercorns and bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and let simmer for 45 minutes, then strain and reserve broth 
  • cook the grated or finely chopped vegetables and the bay leaves in a saucepan, over medium-high heat, with the ¼ cup + 2 tbsp of olive oil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until softened, then add the salt, the crushed garlic, the ground spices (no fresh or dried herbs yet) and cook for 2 minutes and add the rice (that you rinsed well several times before using and strained well) and simmer while stirring for 2 minutes and finally add the ground beef and brown for an additional 3 minutes, stirring well and breaking up the beef
  • add the crushed tomatoes, the chopped herbs, the dried oregano and ¼ cup of broth, remove from the heat, taste and adjust to your preferences 
  • preheat oven to 200°C
  • fill the hollowed bell peppers with the beef and rice stuffing and leave a little space on the top (for the rice to have room to expand) and place the tops back on fill the spaces in between the stuffed peppers with the chopped potato wedges (that you tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano) 
  • add ¼ cup of broth or water in the roasting pan 
  • bake for 40-45 minutes (tightly covered with a sheet of aluminum foil or a lid), then remove the aluminum foil or lid, spoon some of the liquid on the bottom of the pan and pour on top of the bell peppers and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes again
  • remove from the oven, let cool down for 10 minutes and serve warm with bread and feta cheese (each serving should be 375 grams total or 325 grams for 2 stuffed peppers + 50 grams for 3-4 potato wedges) and add 25 grams feta cheese per person and some fresh crusty bread …
  • *note : to heat up, cover with aluminum foil or a lid, preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for 20 minutes …