Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers – Yemista

These delicious vegetarian Greek stuffed peppers are a take on traditional yemista. Peppers are filled with bulgur wheat, vegan mince, vegetables, herbs and pine nuts, making for a satisfying and healthy meal.

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

Nutritious and delicious are two adjectives that don’t always go hand in hand. In this case, I don’t think I could find better words to describe Greek cuisine (or this recipe)!

Greek cuisine is centred around the Mediterranean diet, which is claimed to be the healthiest in the world. Nutritional-packed ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, olive oil, legumes and yogurt feature in most Greek dishes. Although meat and fish are widely consumed throughout the country, there are plenty of great vegetarian and vegan Greek dishes on offer!

With such a plethora of options, it was actually quite hard to decide which vegetable-based Greek dish to make. I had already made a vegetarian moussaka for Bulgaria, a spinach filo pie for Albania, and vegan dolmas for Azerbaijan, so this helped narrow things down.

I finally landed on Greek stuffed peppers, or Yemista as they are called in Greece. After all, I do love making a meal where a humble vegetable is the star of the show! Plus, with so many variations of stuffed peppers, it was super easy to create a recipe that was vegetarian/ vegan friendly.

Traditional Greek Stuffed Peppers (Yemista)

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

Traditionally in Greek cuisine, yemista (sometimes called gemista) are peppers or tomato stuffed with meat, rice and herbs. However, vegetarian yemista can also be found in Greece, particularly during lent when meat is fasted.

I’ve tried a variety of vegetarian stuffed peppers both at Greek restaurants and in Greece itself. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve always found them a little lacklustre. Most the time they are filled with just rice and herbs, and are missing the flavour and texture that the meat brings.

When creating this recipe, we wanted to be sure our vegetarian yemista would have as much as flavour as its meat counterpart. We also wanted to put our own unique spin on the filling.

We traded the traditional rice filling for bulgur wheat, and regular mince for vegetarian mince. We added in pinenuts, shredded zucchini, red onion and plenty of herbs. We decided to use coloured bell peppers for our yemista, however tomato or another vegetable would also work a treat.

How to make Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers (Yemista)

  1. Preheat oven to 175˚C (350˚F). Put bulgur wheat in a heat proof bowl. Cover with hot vegetable stock. Cover bowl with a plate and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with fork and set aside.
Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

2. Add oil to a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes until turning translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Add in vegan mince, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 5 minutes or until the mince has slightly browned. Finally, add the grated zucchini and cook for two more minutes.

Vegetarian Yemista

3. Transfer vegan mince mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add in cooked bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, pine nuts, raisins, egg and salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

4. Place the peppers into a baking dish. Stuff the mixture into the peppers, then cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the top, then remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

Ingredient notes for Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers

  • Bulgur wheat- We used bulgur wheat as an alternative to traditional rice-stuffed Yemista, however you can also sub for your favourite grain such as brown rice or quinoa. Note that cooking times may vary.
  • Vegetarian mince– We used quorn mince as we find it is the best vegetarian substitute, however you could use any mince alternative or sub for finely chopped mushrooms or lentils to give a similar meaty texture.
  • Peppers– We used large colourful peppers for this recipe, however as mentioned before, you could also use tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant as alternatives.
  • To make vegan– omit egg and serve without halloumi.
Vegetarian Yemista

Serving suggestions for Yemista

These vegetarian Greek stuffed peppers are a perfect standalone dinner, or can form part of a Greek spread. We served ours topped with halloumi, with a side of roast potatoes and tzatziki.

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers | Vegetarian Yemista

Vegetarian Greek Stuffed Peppers (Yemista)

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This delicious vegetarian take on Greek stuffed peppers (yemista) includes a filling of bulgur wheat, vegan mince, zucchini, herbs and pine nuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 cup vegetarian mince
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 zucchini (grated)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup mint (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 4 large peppers (insides scooped out and tops cut off)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175˚C (350˚F).
  2. Put bulgur wheat in a heat proof bowl. Cover with hot vegetable stock. Cover bowl with a plate and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with fork and set aside.
  3. Add oil to a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes until turning translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Add in vegan mince, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 5 minutes or until mince has slightly browned. Finally, add the grated zucchini and cook for two more minutes.
  4. Transfer vegan mince mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add in cooked bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, pine nuts, raisins, egg and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place the peppers into a baking dish. Stuff themixture into the peppers, then cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncoverand bake for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the top, then remove from theoven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Did you make this vegetarian Greek stuffed peppers recipe?  If you leave a review below and tag @polkadotpassport in your photos on Instagram, I would love to reshare your creations!

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The perfect vegetarian Greek stuffed peppers recipe also known as yemista
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