In 30-minutes, you can offer a healthy side dish of Smothered Okra and Tomatoes, often known as "Stewed Okra and Tomatoes" in the South. These two vegetables go hand-in-hand, like peas and carrots!
This dish is living proof that all Southern food is not fried!
Many a Southerner remembers Grandma's boiled okra and we hated it. Slimy green vegetable that "had-the-dickens-boiled-out-of-it..." we'd just scoot it around on the plate.
But here's an okra and tomato recipe that you'll actually enjoy - no slime-just delicious green okra in a savory Creole-type tomato sauce.
Why you'll love this recipe!
- Quick and easy - takes about 35-minutes to prepare; you've gotta cook down or "stew" the tomatoes
- Healthy and Low-Calorie- not all Southern food is fried and this offers a whole lot of vitamins and nutrients
- Affordable - these are fresh summer vegetables which means in the summer, they're cheap! You can also make this with canned tomatoes and frozen okra.
What is okra?
Believe it or not, okra is a nutrient dense, edible plant pod in the Mallow plant family(Malvaceae). Also in this family are hollyhock, cotton and Rose of Sharon.
Okra has quite a history, but some folks aren't aware of the vegetable or how to cook it! It originally came from Africa landing, most likely, in Louisiana.
It is used heavily in African recipes and often added to soups, stews and Gumbo's as a thickening agent.
In the Southern United States, you'll often find fried okra - cut okra that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal and fried in oil.
Other preparation methods include grilled and pickled okra. In the South, it is not uncommon to find a pickled okra in your weekend Bloody Mary!
Here's what you'll need:
How to make it:
- First, rinse and pat dry the okra. Then season it heavily with salt and let it sit for 15 minutes. (The salt absorbs some of the moisture.)
- Saute onion and garlic
- Add tomatoes
- Add bay leaves, Creole (or Cajun) seasoning and pepper; cook on medium 20 minutes uncovered
- Add water; bring to boil
- Add okra
- Boil 2-minutes; cover and remove from heat; let rest 5-minutes then serve
Can I use frozen okra?
Use fresh or frozen "cut" okra (not "whole") for this recipe. If you use frozen okra, give it a quick rinse; pat dry; then salt heavily.
How to choose the best okra:
- Look for the smallest, greenest okra pods you can find. Small okra pods tend to have more flavor.
- Make sure the okra is firm and green
- Avoid choosing okra with dark spots
- If you buy okra in advance, store it loosely in a bag in the fridge for up to three days; do not put it in the vegetable bin-just on a shelf
Fresh or canned tomatoes?
Use either one, but if you use canned tomatoes, you'll want to add a pinch of sugar to them. If you use San Marzano tomatoes, no additional sugar is needed. See Recipe Notes.
Use diced, crushed, whole or stewed canned tomatoes and if they have a seasoning in them, like garlic and/or basil, that's okay, too.
Can I make it in a slow cooker or crockpot?
I suppose you could, but it's such a quick and easy recipe, I don't think it would turn out very well...I think the okra would be really slimy.
Storage and Reheating:
Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to three days or freeze for up to 3 months. I put mine in a zip baggie and freeze it.
The best way to reheat this dish is on the stove; it thickens after its been in the fridge, so you'll want to add a little water.
How to prevent slimy okra:
Use cut okra (not whole) and heavily salt it; let it sit for 10 minutes; then shake off the excess salt. The salt absorbs some of the moisture - OR-
Lightly saute it first - this makes it a bit crisp, but adds the "fried food factor" to the dish.
Do not cook this in a cast-iron skillet - when you cook tomatoes in cast-iron, the result is a "tinny" taste; use stainless or non-stick
This vegetable is a thickening agent. It thickens any dish you put it in, like Gumbo
Smothered okra and tomatoes pairs well with just about anything! Fried catfish, chicken fried steak, meatloaf, or pot roast- it's a perfect and healthy Southern side dish your family will learn to love!
- Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo
- New Orleans Cajun Chicken Gumbo
- Fried Catfish
- Classic Meatloaf
- Chicken Fried Steak
- Purple Hull Peas
- Classic Southern Recipes Anyone Can Make
Smothered Okra and Tomatoes
- 28 ounces tomatoes , diced, crushed or stewed
- 1½ cups okra ,rinsed, dried, cut
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup yellow onion ,chopped
- ½ tablespoon garlic ,minced (about two large cloves)
- ½ tablespoon Creole seasoning , or Cajun seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar (optional) see recipe notes
- Rinse and pat dry okra; place in a single layer on paper towel; sprinkle salt over okra; let sit a few minute (the salt absorbs some of the 'slime'); see recipe notes
- Chop onion and garlic; set aside
- Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat
- Add onion and saute until translucent, about two minutes
- Add garlic and allow to cook for about 3 minutes
- Add tomatoes, Creole seasoning, black pepper, bay leaves; cook tomatoes for 20 minutes uncovered; stir occasionally
- Remove bay leaves, add water to tomatoes and bring to boil
- Add okra and let boil for 2 minutes
- Cover and remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes, then serve
- For best results, cook this dish in an aluminum or non-stick pan; do not use a cast-iron skillet. Tomatoes and cast-iron don't like each other; the result is a very "tinny" acidic taste.
- If you're using store-bought or canned tomatoes, you might want to add a teaspoon of sugar if it's too acidic
- Prep okra by sprinkling salt over it and let it sit until the end of the cooking process. The salt will dissolve so when it's time to add the okra to the boiling broth, just dump it in.
♥ If you make this, please leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!