When our parents host a party, they often fill a soup tureen (we know, a bit weird) with this rice. Bejewelled with little bits of vegetables, it is a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, pitas, and pretty much anything else which might be on the table. If you happen to have some tzatziki on hand, place a dollop of it on your plate, next to the rice. Something truly magical happens when the two combine.
This rice is very simple to make, and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. The added beauty is that you can easily substitute the vegetables to accommodate your personal tastes and the produce you have available.
Happy Tsiknopempti everyone! It is carnival season in many areas of Greece and Cyprus and this festive week is called Kreatini (sandwiched between Profoni week and Tirofagou week). Tsiknopempti (Τσικνοπέμπτη), comes from the Greek words τσίκνα, which refers to the smell of roasting meat and Πέμπτη, which means Thursday. This is the day when many Greeks enjoy meat, and one of the last days in which this is permitted before the fast which precedes Greek Orthodox Easter. Typically it is roasted and grilled meats which are feasted upon, however we live in Canada, where it is snowstorm and freezing temperature season. Canadian winters make outdoor grilling and roasting a little uncomfortable and although we are all for tradition, we’re not crazy. So today, we offer a meat recipe to celebrate Tsiknopempti which does not require the great outdoors. Instead, here is the recipe for a traditional, slow braised veal in tomato sauce dish (kokkinisto / κοκκινιστό) with rice. Kokkinisto means reddened in Greek, and represents the fact that the veal is cooked in a tomato sauce.
The English translation of yemista is stuffed, and that is exactly what this recipe asks you to do. This meal involves stuffing vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplants with rice-based deliciousness, baking them for hours, and then feasting until you too, are stuffed.
There is more than one way to stuff a vegetable and many variations of yemista include minced meats or cheese and different kinds of grains. Our parents typically choose to prepare a rice and vegetable based filling, making their yemista an incredibly satisfying, vegan meal.