A great okra dish starts with choosing okra that is fresh and young. Test it by bending the tip back. If it snaps off, the okra is fresh. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.
This is a fast, easy way to cook okra that preserves the fresh taste by not over-cooking it. The okra is cut in half lengthwise, which saves time and keeps the lovely shape of the vegetable. You may notice a little bit of stickiness as you cut it and begin cooking it, but by the time it’s done, all of that sliminess will be cooked out.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1/2 large bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 pound fresh okra, stem end removed and sliced lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne (red) pepper, or to taste
generous grating fresh black pepper
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
Heat a large non-stick skillet rubbed or sprayed lightly with olive oil. When it’s hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the okra and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the okra is beginning to brown. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat, and cover. Cook for 10 more minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve alone or with rice.
This is delicious as an accompaniment to yesterday’s Tofu Jambalaya. You won’t believe how wonderful fresh okra can taste!