For one, I simply adore rice and can eat it at every supper, as we almost nearly did growing up in South Carolina where rice is king. And, even as a kid I always enjoyed okra. Yes, it's slimy, but don't kids like slimy things? I did! Okra was like a toy on the plate. See how long the slime strands will stretch, squish the slimy pod around your mouth. And, best dinner table game ever, race to stab a singular, slime-covered okra seed with the tine of your fork before your brother could. It's not easy.
Then there are the bright, acidic tomatoes that really are the stars of the dish as far as flavor is concerned. Everybody makes stewed okra and tomatoes with fresh okra, but the tomatoes are almost always from a can, because, well, canned stewed tomatoes are picked when perfectly ripe and have all their full flavors preserved. Go ahead, use canned tomatoes, it's perfectly fine.
But what if you used your last can of stewed tomatoes for soup the previous week, and you have just-bought, fresh, local tomatoes on your counter? Roast those fresh tomatoes first to get that sweet, concentrated tomato flavor you'd get from a can.
After you're done roasting tomatoes (or popping open a can of tomatoes), the dish comes together as simply as sauteing some onion, then simmering okra and tomatoes in liquid (water, vegetable broth, or the tomato juice from the canned tomatoes) until the okra is tender.
Serve stewed okra and tomatoes over rice, for sure, and if my memories aren't too hazy, there'd be a pork chop and a side of butter beans on the plate, too. Nowadays, tempeh does the trick for me, though.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
serves 4 as a side
3 large tomatoes (or 28-ounce can of stewed tomatoes)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound okra, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
- If roasting tomatoes instead of using a can of stewed tomatoes: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Cut tomatoes into eights and place on parchment paper-line baking pan. Drizzle tomatoes lightly with olive oil. Salt and pepper tomatoes. Bake for 3 hours. Cool enough to remove skins, if desired (I leave skins on).
- In a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat, add about 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- To the onions, add okra, tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Simmer, with the pot lid partially covering the pot until okra is tender (depending on the size and variety of okra, this could be any where from 10-30 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm over warm rice.