Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recipe: Stewed Okra and Tomatoes with White Beans

I promised yesterday that I would provide a quick, improvised recipe based on a lot of different ingredients, most of which came from our weekly CSA haul.

Let me set the scene. I knew that I wanted to use the okra, but I didn't have as much okra as usual, so I decided that I would throw in long green beans, a few asparagus spears, and a couple of the mysterious bulbous vegetables (now positively identified as kohlrabi -- thank you, readers!). Keep in mind that at this point I still did not know what I was going to make, but I was on my way to building a recipe. I also wanted to use up the rosemary, which was already past its prime. Then I surveyed the rest of my pantry and fridge contents, pulling out tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a bottle of tomato sauce. Finally, I had a few cups of cooked white beans that needed to be used up. That seemed like a good start.

Now onto the recipe.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes with White Beans

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

First things first: for those of you okra haters out there, please hear me out. This vegetable gets a bad rap, but it can be good. Wait -- I'm going to venture as far to say that it can be great. The trick is in the preparation. To avoid that infamous okra slime -- a surefire way to keep okra as a detestable vegetable -- the key is making sure your okra is completely dry. I try to remember to wash okra the night before I intend to cook it, just to make sure it has plenty of time to air dry. Similarly, use a dry knife on a dry cutting board when chopping okra. These little tips go a long way in preventing okra goo.

And if you're still on the fence about okra, this recipe might be a good introduction to okra because the other ingredients and flavors -- tomatoes, garlic, rosemary -- make up the dominant taste profile.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 heads garlic, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 pound okra, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
3 cups (or 2 14-ounce cans) cooked cannellini beans or chickpeas

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and onions. Cook until onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add okra, green beans, and salt and stir well. Cook until okra and beans begin to brown and soften, about 10 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes. Cook until the vegetable mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
4. Add tomato sauce. Set heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until tomato sauce is warm, about 2 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, warm beans in a separate pan.
6. Divide beans among plates and ladle vegetable mixture over beans.
7. Serve dish on its own or alongside brown rice.

Dry okra, dry!

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Have you ever seen green beans this long?

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Eat your greens.

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A generous ladle of tomato sauce is the final touch.

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Dig in!

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Alternatively, you could stir the white beans directly into the stewed vegetables, but I thought the layering method makes for a slightly fancy presentation of an otherwise incredibly simple recipe.

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