A few days ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Olympic Palace Hotel on the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes. The Executive Chef and his team, were working tirelessly to produce utterly delicious food, day after day. It is certainly no easy task producing this level of food constantly, add in the hot climate and long hours and I think many of us would be exhausted. To work at this level you have to have skill and dedication to your work.
Maybe the answer lies in the fact that they must have a real enthusiasm and passion, for the food and ingredients they were using. It was a true pleasure to see! Being a person who loves to immerse herself in the culture of a country, I could not resist getting the opportunity to meet with the food and beverage team, and find out more about their superb Greek dishes. I managed to get a recipe from them too, so if you fancy trying their “Gemista” pronounced yemista then scroll down.
Still to this day, it never ceases to amaze me at how many tourists go to a country, and yet do not try the national dishes? To me, the whole point of visiting a country is to explore not just the surroundings, but their way of life. So I urge you to be a little more adventurous and head to the specialist food sections and restaurants, where local and national cuisine is on offer. Great food is worth exploring! For more information on the Olympic Palace Hotel (which is a super place to stay by the way) go to:-
6 large tomatoes
3 Green Peppers
1 Egg plant chopped small dice (Aubergine in the UK)
1 Pumpkin chopped small dice (Small Butternut Squash in the UK)
12 Tbl of Carolina Rice (Long Grain Rice in UK)
1 White onion finely chopped
Salt & Ground Pepper
1 1/2 Cups of Olive Oil
Handful of fresh parsley finely chopped
Handful of fish mint finely chopped
1kg Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunky moon shape
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Wash the vegetables. Slice a 1cm layer from the top of the tomatoes and peppers. This makes a lid, so keep them for later. Remove the inside of the tomato (carefully so you do not split the skin) and reserve the insides for the next step. Discard the inside of the peppers.
Sprinkle each tomato with a little salt and turn upside down on a tray so that any excess liquid can come out.
In a deep pan take 1\2 cup of olive oil and fry the chopped onion and leek for around 2-3 minutes. Then add the aubergine and butternut squash and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the rice and combine all together well. With a hand blender, blitz half of the insides of the tomatoes. Add this puree to the pan, along with 1 cup of water. Add some salt and pepper for seasoning, and continue cooking on a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the chopped herbs. The filling will be quite loose and juicy.
Place the mixture to 3/4 height of the tomatoes and peppers. You need a little room at the top, as when the rice cooks it will expand. Place the lids on the peppers and tomatoes, and place in a deep baking dish close to each other. Place the potatoes around the edge.
Blend the other half of the tomato insides with the remaining cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and then place over the potatoes.
Cover the baking dish with tin foil and place into the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the tin foil and continue cooking in the oven for a further 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check that it is cooked by gently prodding the potatoes with a knife.
This dish is served both hot and cold in Greece. In fact they often like it at room temperature the following day. This will intensify the flavour even more.
Needless to say it is delicious with feta cheese, but another way is to remove the tops and add a slice of mozzarella, then place under the grill until it melts. However if you are vegan then you can take away any cheese.