Stef is an avid traveller, adventure junkie and sporting enthusiast. When he isn’t competing in triathlons around the world, or leading team building experiences, you’ll find him cooking for his friends, with his wife Sarah. Serve his yemista with a Greek salad for a no-fuss festive meal.
Who taught you to make this dish?
My dad was from Cyprus and my English mother readily adopted Cypriot ways, in particular the cooking. She’s a fantastic cook. And I spent a lot of time in the kitchen from a very young age (especially during the summer holidays). I watched and asked questions.
What are your tips?
The flavours in this dish come from the ingredients. Lamb can be quite fatty so I think lemon juice breaks down that heaviness and lends a beautiful flavour to the dish overall.
Have you been to Cyprus?
When I was younger, about 7 or 8 years old. It was completely unspoilt back then. The beaches were beautiful and untouched
For the vegetables
For the sauce
For the stuffing
Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
To prepare the vegetables, cut the tops off the peppers about 1cm from the top to make the lid. Remove the membrane and seeds. Also cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the flesh to leave a hollow for the stuffing. Put the tomato flesh in a pan with the cinnamon, purée, butter and seasoning. Cut the courgettes in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Chop the flesh and add to the saucepan. Do the same for the aubergine, or cut them in half width-wise and scoop out the flesh if you prefer. Arrange the vegetables in a large baking tray with the lid on.
Prepare the sauce by gently heating the mixed ingredients, adding extra water if necessary until all the pulp is cooked and check the seasoning.
To make the stuffing, fry the onions in the oil until soft and transparent. Add the seasoning and the lamb and cook on a medium heat, until the meat is coloured. Add the parsley, rice and purée and mix. Cover and put on a low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is nearly cooked. If it needs more liquid to allow the rice to cook, add a small amount of water.
To assemble, fill the vegetables with the stuffing and pour the sauce over them before putting the lid back on. Sprinkle with some salt flakes and cover tightly with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then an extra 10-15 minutes with the foil off, but don’t let them go dry.