Favorite okra recipes
I bought okra at the market last week-end and the checker asked me how I was going to cook it, as he was clueless and had probably never had okra - he also had to look up the price code, as the store only has it seasonally. When they do have it, I always buy it, however. Anyway, I told him that I usually fried it with cornmeal or made gumbo. The bag boy was very familiar with gumbo and also liked fried okra.
When I got home, however, I decided to look in my African cookbook for a new okra recipe, and I found one that I liked but decided to make it slightly different. Here's what I made:
Okra and Rice Casserole
1-1/8 cup white Basmati rice
36 pieces of okra
1 medium onion
3 ripe (red) Serrano chilies (can substitute Jalapeno)
1-1/4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (can substitute one can of tomatoes)
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup tomato juice - or -
1/4 to 1/2 cup water + 2 tbsp tomato powder or tomato paste
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated
Rinse the rice in a large sieve and put the drained rice into a heavy pot - preferably a pressure cooker.
Cut the stem ends off the okra and cut each piece into two or three pieces, depending on size. If they are large, cut them into four pieces, but I only buy small ones. Chop the onion coarsely and mince the chilies. Add all of these ingredients to the pot with the rice, along with the tomatoes. If you do not have fresh tomatoes, you can use two cans of tomatoes for this amount of rice.
Dissolve the tomato powder (or paste) into the 1/2 cup of water and add the salt. I use a tomato soup base instead of the tomato powder and salt, and you can use 2 tsp of powdered vegetable bouillon instead of salt, which is what I prefer. Combine the water mixture with the rice and add the oil. Stir everything together loosely - there should not be any clumps of tomato powder or paste.
Cover the pan and if using a pressure cooker with an induction burner, set the burner on high for 7 minutes, or until pressure is reached, and then turn the heat down to low (250 degrees) and continue to cook under pressure for 7 more minutes. Remove from heat (or leave alone if on an induction burner) until the pressure valve has gone down - about ten minutes. Remove the cover and stir to fluff the rice and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
You can eat it like this as a side dish or stir in the grated cheese and heat it for about ten minutes in a casserole dish. I put mine in serving bowls and microwaved them to melt the cheese, which had cooled down the dish.
If not using the pressure cooker, cook the rice until it is done the way you usually do. You can use less water if you want a chewier rice - mine came out very soft, but not watery. I used half a cup of water, but I think I could have used less.
I wrote the recipe down because I wanted to remember it and make it again because it was extremely good! But then I love the flavor of okra. Because it is mixed with rice in this dish, it has none of the slimy texture that some people (not me!) find objectionable. The recipe from the African cookbook was similar to mine, but without the rice and cheese. The cheese was an afterthought - when I tasted the rice after it was done, it just seemed like it needed cheddar cheese. Otherwise, it would have needed a bit more salt, but since the cheese is salty, there was no need to add more salt.
I have other favorite okra recipes as well - what are yours??
I hope I am not alone in liking okra, but it is seldom discussed here, it seems. I ate it frequently as a child, and we used to grow it on our farm in Texas.