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
1 lb Fresh okra
1 liter Water
1/2 cup White vinegar
1 tsp Kosher salt
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
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.
While the okra is soaking, dice the onion and peel and mince the garlic.
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.
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.
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.
Adjust seasoning if needed and serve immediately.
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.