It’s one of my favorite times of the year – farmer’s market season. Farmer’s markets will always hold a special place in my heart. They are where I first began selling my products, where I have been able to connect with countless community members, and where I have formed connections with vendors whom I now consider friends.
On top of that, it’s where I love to purchase my produce! There is something about purchasing produce while standing in the sun with a coffee in hand. I love to wander the stalls and see what looks fresh. I’ll often decide what I am going to cook right then and there, but more times than not, Yemista comes to the top of the list.
Yemista, or stuffed vegetables, is a family favorite in this household. My husband prefers tomatoes, my sons prefer peppers, and I prefer eggplants and zucchini. Depending on what I find, I will cook a mix of vegetables or focus on one vegetable. Next time you stop at your local farmer’s market, pick up which vegetables sound best to you and follow the recipe below!
Keep in mind, I cook a lot like my mother – and her mother before her – a little of this, a touch of that, retaste and reseason. A little more of your favorite or a little less of your not-so-favorite, and you will be just fine.
Note, you’re going to cook this all in one pan, so make sure you have a pan that will fit all the veggies you’re using. If you end up with extra filling, don’t worry, you can bake it on the side with a little liquid – or just make two pans worth!
Wash your veggies, cut the tops for the zucchini and eggplant hollow out the inside but not all the way through so you have a base. You’re creating room in each veggie for the filling. Take the insides of everything and put in a food processor pulse into puree. Place to the side.
In a pan, sauté onions with olive oil on medium heat.
Add chopped parsley, sauté until soft
Add 1-pound fresh ground beef, adding ¼ cup water to help breakdown the ground beef, let it brown.
Add carrots, your veggie “guts” (your puree), and tomato sauce – reserving ¼ cup for the last step. Add salt and pepper.
Let these flavors come together for about 20 min. This is where the “low and slow” method proves its deliciousness. The marriage of the flavors will take time. Once you feel the flavors have combined well, add rice. This process should have taken about 30 minutes.
Now it is time to fill the vegetables! Before you do, salt your veggies slightly. I love using sea salt for all my cooking. Fill them up to the top and place them upside down (open end down) in the pan. It keeps the filling in!
Once you fill them in the plan, you may have some spaces in between. I don’t like them expanding or moving around, so if I have extra veggie pieces or a red skin or Yukon gold potato, I slice that up and squeeze it in.
With your remaining ¼ cup of tomato sauce, add ketchup – and some pepper with a dash of olive oil. Take a spoon and spread it on the veggies. Pour over ½ cup water and cover your pan with foil. Bake 1 hour at 375 degrees. Remove foil, bake 30 minutes more and you’ll have amazing tasting yemista!