07 June 2009

Recipe: Okra and Tomatoes

Bamies Laderes - Okras in tomato-oil-sauce.Another version of Okra and Tomatoes yummy marriage using whole pods unsliced Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: OK, this is so Southern and well-loved in Louisiana too! I love okra and tomatoes when done right. I use dark brown sugar and Worchestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar in addition to the usual garlic, fresh parsley or coriander, a little ground cloves for sweetness, a little smokey chili pepper from New Mexico, and clarified butter or canola oil that reflect my international travel and living abroad.

This is from the Southern Recipe Restoration Project over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where they are preserving Southern food heritage. I applaud their project! What could be better than making sure the next generation gets to enjoy satisfying soul food? :)

This is a version of Okra and Tomatoes from an Italian-American who grew up in Florida. This dish has many variations throughout the South just like Gumbo.

Okra was brought to Louisiana centuries ago by African slaves bringing the seeds from home, planting and cultivating the plants. Over time the African crop grew in popularity and is popular today. Make sure you DO NOT cut the okra into slices until just before you are ready to start cooking them as okra has a, well, slimy quality to it when improperly cooked (like in boiling). The key is to keep it dry by cooking fast as soon as its cut. I'll use canned diced tomatoes when the fresh are not available.

I'll make a meal of this dish with just a piece of buttered sourdough or ciabatti toast on the side!

Feel free to contact the newspaper to contribute your recipe to the Southern Food Restoration Project!

From: Southern Recipe Restoration Project
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The contributor: Patricia Thomas, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia since 2005 and a native of the small Central Florida town of Dunnellon.

The story: Patricia Thomas’ grandmother, Olivia Toffaletti Shuman, combined her Central Florida upbringing with her Italian heritage with delicious results. She showed Thomas' mother, Leatrice Shuman Haffner, how to make this dish. Her mother, in turn, wrote it down for Thomas.

Recipe tester and chef Virginia Willis loved its Italian undertones, noting that it’s very important not to cut the okra until the last minute to prevent it from becoming too slimy."

Hands on time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, diced

1 pound fresh okra, washed

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet with a tight-fitting cover. Add onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. While onion cooks, remove caps and cut okra crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

Add okra to pan all at once, shake pan or stir gently to mix with onion, and immediately add vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Cover and immediately reduce heat. (The goal is to steam the okra gently until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes.)

When okra is tender, push to one side of the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the garlic, stirring gently until fragrant.

Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, black pepper, pepper flakes and basil. Heat for less than 1 minute, just long enough to heat the tomatoes through, then gently fold together with the okra. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Notes: Share your own heirloom recipe

You, too, can share an old family recipe and honor a loved one: Go to ajc.com/food, and under Recipe Restoration Project click on Submit Yours and fill out the form. Or e-mail it to savingsouthernfood@ajc.com. Or mail it to Southern Recipe Restoration Project, c/o Food Editor Jamila Robinson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 72 Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30303.


Per serving:
162 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 3 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 641 milligrams sodium.

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