In the South Carolina Lowcountry, Hilton Head Island to be exact, I grew up on okra and tomatoes. It’s a Lowcountry staple – one that has many variations. My late grandmother, Daisy’s version, which is the best I’ve ever tasted, usually included shrimp or crab meat – whichever a cousin or family friend recently caught along with smoked pork neck bones. Because I’m vegan, mine doesn’t but features one crucial step that I learned from her.
Isn’t the slime the reason many people hate okra? Sauteing the okra reduces the slime, making it more palatable to me.
Vegan Okra and Tomatoes
Yields: Approximately 7 servings
1 28 oz. package of frozen okra (thawed)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped onion (optional) (I use sweet onions)
1 cup water
3 tablespoons grapeseed or oil of your choice (divided)
Seasonings: With this dish, seasoning is really a matter of taste. Usually, I add sugar to reduce the bitterness of the tomatoes. I also add sea salt and savory to taste. Other times, I’ve used sugar and a large vegetable bouillon cube.
- Saute thawed okra in 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat for 10 minutes or until most of the slime has been cooked off.
- Meanwhile, saute onions in 1 tablespoon of oil on medium-low heat in a large pot for that same time period.
- Transfer the okra to the pot with onions.
- Add the tomatoes.
- Add the water.
- Use seasonings as listed above or season to taste.
- Bring to a boil and immediately bring heat down to simmer.
- Cook 1 hour.
My grandmother called her recipe Okra Soup, which is what it was essentially. Nevertheless, we ate it, like practically every other vegetable atop white rice. I’ve managed to wean myself off eating green beans on rice, lima beans on rice and peas on rice, but I can’t eat okra and tomatoes without a little rice. These days, I eat okra and tomatoes in my favorite mug with roughly 2 tablespoons of black rice or quinoa in the mix!
P.S. According to Organic Facts, okra boasts the following health benefits:
- lower total cholesterol levels
- improve digestive health
- improve vision
- boost skin health
- protect infant health
- prevent certain cancers
- strengthen bones
- improve cardiovascular health
- aid the immune system
- lower blood pressure
- protect heart health
Now, if I could just get my kids to eat it! But I understand their disdain for it, because I didn’t like it as a kid, either! I don’t eat okra for the purported health benefits, however. I eat it, because it finally tastes good to me!