Gemista is Ketonised!!! Eureka moment all over again. Yes, the most beloved summer and springtime Greek dish comes with perfect Keto macros now. 😉 How about the flavour, you might ask? Well, it has been tested by Ketonians and Non-Ketonians. It has also been tasted by the Greeks and Non-Greeks. Guess what? Everyone loved it. The secret is not only in the organic, nutritious ingredients and perfect amounts of spices. This time, the secret lays in ancient Greek replica clay pot we used for baking.
Gemista (pronounced as Yemista) in Greek literally means to stuff something
Patience is a virtue in Gemista preparation
Gemista is a kind of dish that really requires time and patience, but the ending result will make you fall in love with Greek cuisine all over again. Ideally, you will prepare Gemista with some help. For example, someone with patience and a gentle touch can be in charge of cutting and extracting the pulp from tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Someone with chef’s chopping skills can take care of the sšpring onion because it really needs to be finely chopped. For us, it was such a pleasure preparing it, and it’s a great way to bond with friends and family!
Vegetables used in this dish are actually fruits. 😮 Well, at least botanically speaking. Only zuchinni was actually known to ancient Greeks, everything else came from somewhere else throughout the modern years. Nevertheless, tomato, eggplant and peppers became the symbols of Mediterranean cuisine!
How did the ancients prepare their food?
The food in ancient Greece was extremely connected to their social and spiritual lives. In wealthy families, there was always a chef and several helpers in the kitchen. In the middle and lower class, the lady of the house would be the main cook, but there always were helpers. If not slaves, then daughters would help in the kitchen. The food was prepared not only for nourishment but also worshipping the Olympian Gods. At the beginning of every new month, ancient Greeks celebrated Noumenia. This was the happiest day!
Special kinds of foods would be prepared on this day, and there would always be a cake in honour of the household deity. In most cases, Demeter was worshipped, but a great devotion in ancient Greek household was given to the goddess Hestia. (goddess of fireplace, heart and home). This is why the ancient Greek word for the stove (meaning fireplace) is Hestia, not Cusina (This is an Italian word).
Why food tastes better in clay pots?
The answer to this question lies in the unique property of clay. there’s something magical about clay pots. If you never tasted food prepared in such pottery, then you are missing a whole new level of culinary art. Nothing, and I swear, nothing tastes better than food cooked in clay pots. I am talking about ancient style, no glaze, no coating, just pure clay, preferably terra-cotta! You will thank me once you try this!
Clay pots are porous
Unlike in modern metallic, glass or aluminium pots and pans, the heat and moisture flow within the pot through the cooking process. The result of this is that the majority of nutrients are being preserved and do not evaporate. This is not only healthy but also leads to unbelievably tastier food! For slow, smooth and delicate cooking clay pots, ever since ancient times, are the best and healthiest choices! Investing in such a pot or baking dish could be the best decision a Ketonian that wants to live the Mediterranean life can do!
Alkaline nature of clay
Clay is alkaline in nature! This interacts with the acidity in the food. This means compensating the pH balance in the food. It acts as a natural sweetener and any acidic foods like meat, vegetables or seafood will take some natural sweetness from the earthenware pot. This is the reason why liquids like water, tea and coffee taste better in clay than any other container.
So many important advantages
The food gets cooked in its own juices and fats and this emphasises the natural flavours of each ingredient. Cookware from clay is dormant in energy and it connects us to our ancestors. Food prepared in clay pots, especially those with the lid, stays warm for a longer period of time. you can have your food warm for 4-5 hours!
Step into our Keto kitchen time machine 😉
- 2 small tomatoes
- 2 medium zucchini round courgette
- 1 medium bell pepper red, green or yellow
- 1 medium eggplant You will use only half of it
- 1 large spring onion finely chopped
- 500 g 18 oz minced meat we used lamb
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tsp goat butter
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder you can use 4 cloves chopped garlic
- 1/2 tsp dried peppermint you can use fresh too
- 1/2 tsp red hot paprika flakes optional
- 1 tsp dried parsley you can also use fresh
- 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 tsp sweet paprika powder Hungarian
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds raw
- 1 whole egg large, free-range
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 100 g 5 oz Greek feta cheese sheep & goat milk
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp organic tomato purée concentrated
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 2-3 pinch sea salt
- Wash the vegetables in warm water and vinegar solution. Start first with the tomatoes. Cut them in the upper part and carefully remove all the pulp. Keep the pulp in a separate bowl. Now cut the round courgette zucchini and remove the pulp. Try to make zucchini stand by cutting just a thin portion from the bottom. Cut the eggplant in half and remove the pulp creating a long cup. In the end, cut the peppers and remove the seeds. Keep the upper parts for lids. Finely chop all the pulp from the vegetables you've kept aside. Grease all the veggies with some olive oil to prevent them from turning dark.
- Start preparing the filling. Finely chop the spring onion and sauté it in 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of goat butter. We used a marble-wok type of pan, you can use any deep pan. Add the minced meat and stir with a wooden spoon. Let the meat brown.
- Add sea salt and stir. Start adding the spices. (garlic powder, peppermint, red hot paprika flakes, parsley, Ceylon cinnamon, sweet paprika powder, bay leaves and all the spices you like)
- Let it cook for 2 minutes and then add the remaining vegetable pulp that you finely chopped earlier. Stir and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Now add the raw sesame seeds and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and wait a few minutes to cool down a bit. Add 1 large egg. Stir energetically so that the egg doesn't create crumbs. Now add black pepper. (It's crucial to add it in the end)
- Pour approximately 2 tbsp (Greeks never measure and always add more) of olive oil into a deep clay baking dish. We used the ancient replica made of Terra-cotta clay without the glaze. You can use any deep ceramic baking dish that comes with a lid.
- Start filling the vegetables with the meat mixture. Fill them up to the top and cover with their natural lids. It's really effective to leave the stalks on. Fit all the filled vegetables into the pot close to each other. Brush them with some more olive oil (you can also use melted butter) and add 1,5 cup water.
- Cover with the clay lid and place it in the oven. Bake at 250ºC (480ºF) for 45 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the red sauce. Mix 1 hipped tablespoon of concentrated organic tomato purée (without added sugar) with 1/2 cup of warm water. Add some sea salt to your liking and 1 tbsp of dried oregano. Mix well. After the Gemista has been baked under the lid for 45 minutes, add this red sauce (pour it all over) and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered.
- Now, sprinkle the feta cheese all over and return to the oven. If your oven doesn't have the grilling program, just turn it on to the maximum and let the feta melt for 2 minutes.
- When serving, you can add some more feta cheese, sour cream or full-fat Greek yoghurt. The dish is equally delicious hot or cold.