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okra

In ingredient on September 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

i don’t know about you, but a lot of my food preferences come from my parents – especially the dislikes. for example, my mom hates peanut butter. always has. and when i was growing up, she never had it in the house. i guess i was indoctrinated into the peanut-butter-is-evil camp, because for years, i wouldn’t go near it. only recently have i decided that it has redeeming qualities, but i’m still pretty take it or leave it when it come to PB.

okra was the big one with my dad. i’m not sure why, but he hated it and my mom never cooked with it. i have the same dislike and distrust of it.

until now. in the spirit of doing something every day that scares me, today i’m cooking okra – a nice, big, steaming pot of it that i plan to eat for lunch with rice all week. give it a chance, right? on its own merits. and if after the week i still can’t stomach it, i’ll at least feel like i made that decision as an adult.

here we go. i was inspired by this article, because everything is better smothered in garlicy, oniony, tomato sauce.

plus, it’s apparently wicked good for you:

okra is low in calories, very high in dietary fiber, and a great source of vitamin a, vitamin c, b vitamins and the phytonutrients glutathione, xanthin, lutein and beta carotene.

so start by mixing 2 pounds okra in a bowl with a ton of salt and a cup of red wine vinegar. let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour, stirring occasionally.

i used frozen, pre-sliced okra (only because my whole foods didn’t have fresh, but it turned out fine) and let it thaw during this step. the recipe said to rinse before the next step, but i like vinegar so i didn’t.

meanwhile, thinly slice two large onions and four to five cloves of garlic.

sautee the onions for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and the okra.

it says cook until the okra gets a little color, but there’s liquid in there from the onions, so i didn’t think it would happen. it did!

add a can of crushed tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes.

bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

add salt and pepper to taste, and one tablespoon tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup water, one teaspoon ground allspice and one teaspoon sugar.

now simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, until the okra is soft. at this point, i went to bed, leaving him strict instructions to turn off the heat in 45 minutes. he even set an alarm.

in the morning, this was sill sitting on the stove (thank god the burner was off…)

i added the juice of half a large lemon and a handful of chopped parsley, and packed it up for lunch! how easy.

on a whole, the dish was good. because of the high ratio of tomatoes, onions, garlic and vinegar, it tasted a lot like something i make with chickpeas. the allspice gives it an unexpected, home-y, autumn-y flavor. as for the okra itself, i’m not sure i could pick out a distinctive flavor, but the texture was not slimy, as i usually suspect okra will be. plus, i dig the big round white seeds.

i’m not  ready to declare total okra victory yet, but i will certainly enjoy my lunches this week.

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