A Northern Girl's Ode to Okra: Skillet Stewed Tomatoes & Okra ♥ Recipe

Today's okra recipe: Summer tomatoes and okra cooked slowly, ev-ah so slow-ly, in a skillet right on the stove, developing nuance and sweetness. Low carb. Gluten-free. Paleo. Weight Watchers 1 or 2 points. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

Long have I known that my soul looks to the North, where summer nights are long and ice fairies dance atop snow drifts in the brilliant late-winter light. But somewhere along the way, a "southern gene" must have taken hold because lordy-lordy, I do love okra. (And grits. But that’s a story for another day.) In late summer, okra’s small finger-shaped pods come off the plants by the basketful, so precious: the arrival of the first okra is greeted with the same excitement as the season’s first asparagus, the first sweet corn, the first beets, the first tomatoes, the first butternut squash.

Last summer, this became our favorite new way to cook okra. We cooked okra and tomatoes together several times, paring down the recipe to its bare necessities, simplifying the approach, adding a touch of sweet to balance the tomatoes' natural acidity. I thought about calling this Heaven in a Skillet. But really, it’s just A Northern Girl's Ode to Okra.

RECIPE for SKILLET STEWED TOMATOES & OKRA

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound fresh young, tender okra, preferably no more than 3 - 4 inches long, stems trimmed near the seam
Water or vegetable stock
1 pound very ripe summer tomatoes, stems removed and diced
1 tablespoon agave or honey
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste, optional (see TIPS)

Halved grape or cherry tomatoes, for aesthetics only
Chopped chive or oregano, for aesthetics only

In a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the olive oil until shimmery on MEDIUM heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook just until beginning to turn color. Move the onion to the edges and add the okra, stir to coat with fat, then increase the heat to MEDIUM HIGH and let the okra brown a bit before turning (see ALANNA's TIPS), if needed adding a splash of water or vegetable stock to keep from burning.

Stir in tomatoes, agave and salt and pepper. Add water that comes about halfway up the tomatoes/okra. Let cook uncovered for about 25 minutes, adding more water as needed to prevent burning, near the end, letting water cook off almost entirely. Taste and adjust seasoning. If needed (see TIPS), stir in tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes.

To serve, top with tomato halves and fresh herbs.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
For the photo version, I tried really hard to get a little "burn" (not really burn, but a little color) on the okra on an electric stove with a cast iron skillet but just couldn't make it happen without burning the onion too. If I have trouble with that again, I'll cook the onion and garlic, then lift them out of the pan onto a plate, then add the okra to better use a higher heat on them to get the rustic look that's so appealing visually.
Tomato paste can cover a multitude of tomato sins. If your tomatoes are a little watery or pallid, the tomato paste will boost the tomato flavor back up to where it's needed.
LEFTOVERS Heat beautifully and might be even better than fresh-cooked. It's also easy to make a big batch and drop in a few meatballs or a few curls of fresh shrimp. Ah, summer!



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A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013


6 comments:

Lightly steamed fresh baby okra with a touch of butter is a totally different vegetable, but both are yummy.

I'm embarking on a "Clean Eating" adventure. This looks as if it will fit the bill nicely!
The most common way I've had okra is breaded and fried.

Hoo boy, I LOVE IT when my "Veggie Venture" appears with yet again another DEELICIOUS recipe and inspiration... THANKS thanks ...!

Mary - Yummy indeed!

Jessica ~ It’s all “clean eating” here at A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade, always has been, always will be! It’s no fad here, no “new trend”. Just the way it is.

Maricia ~ And thank YOU for this morning’s big grin! You made my day!

Lovely dish. I love okra, and it combines so well with tomato. I'll bet adding a touch of cinnamon to the dish would give it a nice undertone of flavor (there are a lot of Moroccan tomato & okra dishes, and cinnamon is often used there). For years I wouldn't use tomato paste for some odd reason, but now I'm back using it all the time again, to improve the flavor of the dish. Even many canned tomatoes don't seem to have the flavor I remember, alas. Excellent recipe - thanks.

SUCH A BLUSH OF RED AND GREEN IN THIS YUMMY DISH, THE BABY TOMATOES AND OKRA GO AMAZINGLY WELL YUMMM
:-)

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna