Braised Okra in Garlic-Tomato Sauce

Okra is one of those vegetables not a lot of people usually eat. Apparently it is originally from Ethiopia, then brought to the middle east and finally made it to the Caribbean and The Americas. My mom used to make it at home when I was growing up, so I was exposed to it from a very early age. She used to slice them and sautéed with onion and tomatoes and sometimes she would add egg as well.

The vegetable can be a little slimy, but when cooked properly that "slime" can actually add body to whatever it is that you are making. Also cooking it the right way will eliminate that slime.

I was just introduced to this method of cooking okra and fell in love with it so after doing some tweaks and revisions decided to share it. This recipe turns out incredible and it works well as a vegetarian dinner with some crusty bread, but could also easily work as a side-dish. Try it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Yield: 2-4 portions as a main dish or 5-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

For soaking:

1 lb Fresh okra

1 liter Water

1/2 cup White vinegar

1 tsp Kosher salt

For sauce:

1 bulb Garlic, peeled & minced (about 1/3 cup)

1/2 each Large onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Tomato paste

1 1/2 cups Warm water

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp Fresh ground pepper

For garnish/eating: (optional)

As needed Crusty bread

As needed Feta cheese, crumbled or grated

As needed Lemon juice

As needed Fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped

Method:

  1. Start by soaking the okra in water, vinegar and salt. Place all ingredients in a bowl and let soak between 45-60 minutes. After the time has elapsed, rinse, pat dry and trim the bottom ends of the okra. This will prevent the okra from splitting while it cooks and will permit the liquid to penetrate and add flavour.

  2. While the okra is soaking, dice the onion and peel and mince the garlic.

  3. Heat a deep pan or a pot, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic over low heat. Cook until fragrant and onion is translucent.

  4. While onion and garlic are sautéing, in a bowl or measuring cup combine warm water, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper, stirring well. Add this mixture to the pan or pot and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

  5. Add okra to the pot and bring to a simmer, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover and continue simmering gently for 45-50 minutes stirring carefully a couple of times throughout this cooking time. Be gentle when stirring to prevent the okra from breaking. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan every time you stir.

  6. Adjust seasoning if needed and serve immediately.

  7. You can eat it as-is with some crusty bread or served on top of rice. Or you can garnish with feta cheese, lemon juice and/or chopped parsley/dill.

ABE'S COOKING TIPS & POINTERS

#1 

Prep, cut and measure ingredients before you start cooking to ease the process.  Organization is key and lists are your friends.

 

#2

Put a dish towel or a damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping and moving around.

 

#3

Grate garlic and ginger with a microplane instead of mincing them with a knife.

 

#4

"Clean as you go" so you are not overwhelmed when you are done.  Find those down moments to wash utensils, pots & pans, and wipe counters, so you can enjoy your food and not have to clean all at the end.

 

#5

Use fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process to add freshness and flavour to the dish, but add dry herbs at the beginning to extract the most flavour possible.

 

#6

Season in layers...  this means to add a little salt and pepper every time you add a new ingredient to the pot/pan.  This will ensure all your ingredients are well seasoned and you will just have to adjust seasoning at the end.

 

#7

Recipes are just guidelines.  Feel free replacing ingredients with similar ones you like.  And remember, time and temperatures may vary according to sizes of the food and your appliances.

 

© 2016 by Abraham Wornovitzky for On My Table Today