~more recently updated recipes~
~such a favorite recipe, republished in 2010 ~
2005 Original: Quintessential summer, that's what this Farm Stand Stew brings to mind. It's a bit of effort but with perfectly fresh tomatoes, okra and sweet corn, worth every minute. If time were the #1 factor, I'd substitute canned tomatoes and frozen corn for the fresh. They're such good products these days, the difference, I suspect, while discernible, wouldn't be enough to quibble. (See 2010 notes for a very different idea!)
This is the first time I've cooked okra! I bought them at the farmers market without having a clue how to cook them but opened up Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook, confident I'd find a few options. Do you have your own reliable source for how to cook vegetables? (Hmmm?! Maybe it's A Veggie Venture! Cool!) If not, find one, it'll make all the difference in your willingness to be adventurous about fresh vegetables when the opportunity arises.
2010: I so love these summer vegetable stews, ones that take advantage of the cornucopia of fresh vegetables so easy to find, so beautiful, at the height of summer. I have learned, however, that this stew really needs fresh vegetables: DO use fresh corn, DO use fresh ripe tomatoes. This is a summer stew, make it in summer. The chili powder "sounds" weird, I know, and the amount called for sounds like "too much" – but my goodness, was I happily surprised, after not making this for five years, how good it was, both straight off the stove and leftover too.
RECIPE for SOUTHERN FARM STAND STEW with OKRA, TOMATOES & SWEET CORN
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes 6 cups
1 tablespoon bacon grease (or olive oil for vegan)
1 large onion
1 large green or red or yellow bell pepper
Salt & pepper
1 cup fresh okra (from about 1/2 pound), trimmed and cut into small rounds
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (see TIPS)
1 tablespoon chili powder (this sounded like a lot but I found it right on)
2 cups corn (from about 4 ears), sliced off the cob and 'milked' with a knife to capture the corn juice
Heat the bacon grease or oil over MEDIUM in a large, deep skillet that has a cover. While it heats, chop the onion and pepper. Add to the skillet and stir well to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper is fairly tender, about 10 minutes. (If it reaches the right tenderness before the okra and tomatoes are ready, reduce the heat to LOW.)
Stir in the okra, tomatoes and chili powder, adjust the heat to MEDIUM. Cover and let cook, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes or until the okra is tender. Uncover the skillet and stir in the corn. If the dish is quite liquid, cook for another 5 - 10 minutes on MEDIUM, uncovered, stirring often. If the dish is somewhat dry, cook on LOW, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
HOW to BLANCH and PEEL TOMATOES Some people prefer to remove tomato skins, for aesthetic and digestive reasons. I don't find it necessary but if you do, feel free to remove the skips. To blanch the tomatoes, drop them into the boiling water for about a minute, then lift out with a slotted spoon and let cool until cool enough to handle. With a knife, remove the stem end with a cone-shaped cut. Stick a fork in the opposite end - this makes it easier to hold the hot tomato while peeling it. Use a knife to peel away the skin and discard it. Cut the tomato in half, crossways. With your fingers, remove the juices and seeds. Chop the remaining tomato meat.
HOW to CUT CORN from the COB Just saw this great trick on the Food Network. You know how corn flies everywhere when you cut it off the cob? No more. Insert the tip of the cob vertically into the center hole of a bundt pan (if yours has one, unfortunately, mine doesn't)and cut away. The kernels will collect in the pan. This would be especially great for a large amount. Here are step-by-step photos, How to Cut Corn Off the Cob, Keeping All Ten Fingers, Capturing Every Delicious Kernel and Every Drop of Sweet Corn 'Milk'.
LEFTOVER REPORT This stew rewarms beautifully, it is just as good, if not better, than the first night.
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MORE FAVORITE VEGETABLE STEW RECIPES~ Summer Vegetable Stew ~
~ Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ Summer Vegetable Curry ~
~ more vegetable stew recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Ratatouille ~
~ Squash & Carrot Stew ~
~ Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew ~
~ Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin ~
~ more meatless main dish recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column