Gemista & Melitzanosalata (eggplant salad)

Ingredients needed for Gemista:

  • 1 carrot
  •  2 medium sized tomatoes (not very ripe)
  • 2 bell peppers (any color you like)
  • 1 zucchini 
  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • 1/3 bunch of mint
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 tbsp wholegrain (brown rice) or white rice
  • Salt, pepper, oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Black raisins and pine nuts (optional)

Method:

  • If you are using brown rice you need to soak it in room temperature water while you prepare all the other ingredients. One tablespoon of rice for each vegetable - eggplant and zucchini count as four vegetables.) Chop the parsley and mint finely.
  • Either mince or chop the garlic.
  • Peel the carrot and chop it into small cubes.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into equal sized pieces and soak in cold water.
  • Slice the tops of the tomatoes - cut close to the top so there is more space in the tomato to fill. Save the tops. 
  • Carefully scoop out the flesh, making sure not to rip the outer shell. 
  • Put the tomato flesh inside a strainer on top of a bowl to reserve the liquid from the tomatoes.
  • Salt the inside of the tomato shells, placing them upside down on the baking tray to remove excess juice.
  • Slice the tops of the bell peppers, cutting just below the stem and a little off the bottom to help them stand better (if need be). 
  • Scoop out the inside of the peppers, throwing out the seeds but reserving the flesh. Salt the inside of the peppers and place them on the baking tray. 
  • Cut the zucchini into two halves and scoop out, reserving the flesh.  Salt the  shell. Place on the tray.
  • Cut the eggplant in half either lengthwise or crosswise. 
  • Scoop out the flesh and reserve. Salt the shell. Place on the tray.
  • Remove as many seeds as possible from the flesh of the tomatoes in the strainer.  Chop the remaining flesh along with the reserved flesh of the eggplant, zucchini and peppers.
  • Place all the chopped ingredients in a bowl along with the chopped carrot, onion and garlic. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and optional pine nuts and raisins.
  • Drain the rice that has been soaking. Add it to the bowl along with the parsley and mint. 
  • Mix all the ingredients.
  • Put the cut potatoes into the reserved tomato juice and season with oregano, salt and pepper and olive oil. 
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/390 F. 
  • Use a spoon to fill all the vegetables to the top (but not over). Cover with the saved  tops. Scatter the potatoes and the tomato juice around the vegetables on the baking tray.
  • Bake gemista for around 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.
  • Gemista are best when served the next day as the rice will absorb all flavours and juices. But who can wait until the next day? You try some when they reach room temperature. Often served with some feta or tzatziki!

Ingredients needed for the Melitzanosalata:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Lemon juice (prevents eggplant from turning brown when peeled)
  • Vinegar
  • A few sprigs of parsley 
  • 1 Red pepper (optional)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped spring onion (optional)
  • Feta and olives for garnish

Method:

  • Chop or mince the garlic. Chop the parsley
  • Cook eggplant.  The best way is to roast it using the burner on a gas stove or a barbecue. The secret is to have the eggplant directly on the fire, holding it with a fork or tongs while turning it.  It’s ok if some of the eggplant gets burnt as it will create a smokey taste and a beautiful white color on the inside. This will take 10 -15 minutes depending on the size.  When done it will be quite soft when pierced with a fork. 
  • Follow the same process with the red pepper.
  • Alternatively simply place the eggplant on the oven rack and cook the eggplant for about 40 minutes and the red pepper for 15-20 minutes in a 190C/390F  preheated oven.  
  • Allow the vegetables to cool for about 10 minutes before peeling.  (If you are in a hurry put them inside a plastic bag, close it tightly and put the whole bag under cold tap running water to cool them off quickly.)
  • Working over a bowl in order to save any juice from the eggplant, roughly chop it and sprinkle with lemon juice. 
  • Chop the red pepper and add it to the bowl along with the garlic, olive oil, chopped parsley, salt and vinegar according to your taste. This will create a chunky melitzanosalata. For a creamier smoother texture, blend in the food processor. 
  • To serve, top with the onion (if desired) and garnish with some crumbled feta and some olives.. You can even create some small bruschettas with this dip on top - it is perfect for a gathering!  

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