Thursday, October 7, 2010

Okra and Tomato Stew

I got more okra in my CSA bag this week, so I set out to find another okra recipe that did not include frying it.  Nate had told me that okra is used in stews because it has "thickening power" so I looked around online for some okra stew recipes that included other things I already had.  I found one called "West African Okra Stew" and it was more of a guide than a recipe, just listing what goes in it but no quantities, which worked well for me.

First I chopped up everything: okra (cut off the stems then sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, there was maybe about a pound), 1 1/2 large tomatoes (diced), 1 medium onion (diced), and 2 large handfuls of spinach (cut off stems, left leaves whole).

I heated a good amount of olive oil in a medium saucepan, then cooked the onion and tomatoes until they were soft, maybe 10 minutes or so.  I also added some salt and cayenne pepper for a little zing.  I am a wimp when it comes to zing so I didn't add a whole lot, but I could see how it would taste good with more if you can handle spiciness.  Then I added the okra and spinach and mixed it in a little and put a lid on so the steam would help wilt the spinach.  I left the lid on for about 10 minutes, then stirred it all together and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes with the lid off.  I use stainless steel cookware so I used pretty low heat for most of this, but if you use non-stick it would need to be a little higher.  Basically you want it just just barely simmer at most.

I served it over brown rice to keep it healthy, but it would be good over any type of rice, quinoa or pasta, or even by itself.  I also cracked some black pepper on top, but I add pepper to everything.  Here is what the final product looked like:
I did not need to add any liquid, the tomatoes created most of the sauce, though the olive oil and onion helped as well.  If you use really fresh produce, that will help, but if needed you can add a small amount of water or tomato paste.  I kept the dish vegetarian, but I think it would taste really good with either chicken or a spicy sausage like andouille.  If you use chicken, you would probably want to cook it up separately with some seasoning or spice, then add it in the last 10-15 minutes of simmer time.

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