There is something comforting about Okra. Maybe it’s because I associate okra as a staple of southern cuisine…think gumbo…comfort food to the max! But there is also stewed okra, fried okra and the delectable taste of pickled okra to name a few other dishes. I absolutely love okra and can’t get enough of this amazing fruit, aka vegetable!
Here in the United States okra is grown mostly in South Carolina and Florida. This tube-like vegetable which is also known as lady’s fingers originated in Ethiopia though some have disputed its origin to be West Africa.
Okra is the seed pod of the Abelmoschus esculentus (A-bel-moschus es-cu-len-tus) plant. It has a mild, grassy flavor and gets quite slimy when cooked. According to WebMD, okra is very nutritious. It is rich in magnesium, folate, fiber, vitamins A, C, K1, and B6 as well as antioxidants that help reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. No wonder I like it…it’s a powerhouse of goodness!
I was first introduced to okra when we lived in Oklahoma. We were visiting our friends and for some reason we started talking about okra. Why, I don’t recall, but that night I came home with a new recipe, okra stew. Since then, okra stew has become a staple in our home. To me, it is the ultimate comfort food. Perfect to serve on a cold winters night yet perfect enough to eat anytime of the year. Although okra is a summer growing vegetable nowadays most grocery stores carry it all year long since it is also grown and imported from Honduras. Not a fan of okra, give this stew a try and you may surprise yourself!
Here is what you will need:
- 1 lb. fresh okra, ends cut off then cut in half or in thirds (a 12 oz package of okra will work as well)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large zucchini, diced
- ½ banana pepper, diced
- ½ cup corn, can be frozen
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cans stewed tomatoes
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Frank’s RedHot Sauce (original)
- 2 small ladles of reserved okra water
- In a large skillet place 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and sauté onions, zucchini, and banana peppers until lightly browned. Add in frozen corn and sauté until corn has cooked slightly. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant.
- While vegetables are sautéing wash and cut okra in half or thirds (will depend on the size each piece). Place okra into a saucepan and cover with just enough water to cover the okra, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 6 – 8 minutes or until the okra is tender. After okra has cooked, turn off burner.
- Place a bowl and sieve into the kitchen sink. Drain the okra into the sieve, reserving some of the water in the bowl.
- While the burner is off, place the okra back into the saucepan it was cooked in. Add in sautéed vegetables and stir.
- Add in stewed tomatoes*, tomato sauce and tomato paste, stir again.
- Add in a few shakes of Frank’s RedHot Sauce (original). I usually count to six.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Finally add in 2 small ladles of reserved water.
- Turn burner to medium-low and cook the okra stew for about 30 plus minutes.
- Stewed tomatoes can be made from scratch, which I have done. However, the time and expense does not make it feasible. If you are inclined to make stewed tomatoes you would need 13 plum tomatoes, two large beefsteak tomatoes, 1 green pepper, 1 stalk celery, dried parsley, 1 tsp. sugar and salt to taste. To peel the tomatoes blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in an ice bath. After removing the skins, chop them up and add to saucepan with diced green pepper and diced celery. Add parsley, sugar, and salt. Stir all ingredients. Cook for about 30 – 40 minutes on medium.
As with any recipe this is just a guideline. Take it for what it is. Use your imagination. Experiment!
Enjoy and Bon Appétit!