Yemista: Stuffed Tomatoes With Rice and Ground Beef

Stuffed tomatoes topped with breadcrumbs

 sbossert/Getty Images

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
490 Calories
26g Fat
45g Carbs
21g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 490
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 229mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 21g
Calcium 99mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Yemista means "stuffed" in Greek, and this recipe traditionally features tomatoes. This recipe is a staple of the summer season when tomatoes are abundant and at their peak. You can also use the same filling for peppers, zucchini or any other vegetables that may be available.

This recipe makes enough filling for 6 large tomatoes and 3 medium zucchini. You can adjust it according to your needs.


  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound beef (ground)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1 large onion (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup parsley (fresh, minced)
  • 6 tablespoons rice (uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (ground)
  • Optional: salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3 large potatoes (peeled and sliced into wedges)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 6 pats of butter or margarine

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this stuffed tomato dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prep the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Slice the tops of the tomatoes, leaving a small piece attached to the base to act as a hinge for the tomato top. This helps to keep the tops matched to the bottoms. 

  3. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh and reserve in a bowl. Be careful not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes.

  4. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar into each tomato cavity to help reduce the acidity.

  5. Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the zucchini flesh and add to the bowl.

  6. Using a food processor or food mill, process the pulp until you have a chunky liquid. Set aside.

Prepare the Stuffing

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet.

  2. When all the pink has disappeared, add the olive oil and the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the parsley, rice, half the tomato pulp puree, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce a bit so that it is not too runny. The uncooked rice will begin to absorb the excess liquid as it cooks.

Stuffing and Baking the Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  2. Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a rectangular pan.

  3. Assemble the vegetables in the pan and use the potato wedges to keep the vegetables upright.

  4. Stuff the tomatoes and zucchini about 3/4 full.

  5. Replace the tomato "caps" and sprinkle the tomatoes and zucchini with breadcrumbs. Place a pat of butter or margarine on each tomato top.

  6. Pour the remaining pulp puree into the bottom of the pan and season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

  7. Bake for about 1 hour or until the vegetables have become tender and cooked through. For best results, you can lower the heat to 275 F and let the vegetables slow roast for a few hours.

  8. The flavors develop as the vegetables sit so they can be enjoyed even more as leftovers the next day.

Recipe Variation

  • Feel free to add raisins, pine nuts, or slivered almonds if you'd like added texture.

Recipe Tags: