What’s In The Bag, Tuesday, July 17

After the steady rains the last couple weeks and the return of high heat, our gardens are flourishing with persistence (as well as the weeds). Some plants require our attention daily in order to obtain the fruit at the optimal moment (i.e. size, flavor, ripeness, etc). One such plant we give daily attention to is the okra.

Okra is a beautiful plant in the mallow family (malvaceae; the same family as hibiscus) known for its edible seed pods. Growing okra does extremely well in heat and drought and, therefore, is grown in many parts of the world.

Okra is high in fiber and Vitamin C. In fact, the slimy substance inside the okra is a form of soluble fiber. It is also high in antioxidants, and is fat and cholesterol free!

The inside of okra is mucilaginous, meaning it has a slimy texture that can take some getting used to. But, oh, have you ever had fried okra? There is nothing like it! One way to lessen the slime factor is to prepare okra with something acidic…like, say…tomatoes! Below is a recipe for an okra and tomato dish, two items that await in the Tuesday CSA bags.

What’s In The Bag:
* Romaine lettuce (from the hoophouse!)
* French filet beans
* Tomatoes
* Okra
* Basil
* Eggplant

Okra and Tomatoes
adapted from localfoods.about.com

Ingredients:

  • sliced okra
  • 1 small or half a medium onion
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder (if you prefer spice)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Trim off the stem ends from the okra and cut the pods into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices and set aside.
  2. chop onions to your desired thickness
  3. Chop the tomatoes and mince the garlic and set them both aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan or saute pan over high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions start to brown.
  5. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add chile powder, cumin seeds, turmeric, and cayenne, if using, and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds.
  6. Add okra stir to coat with onion-spice mixture. Add tomatoes, any juices they’ve released, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Stir combine and cover. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook until okra is tender and flavors are blended, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in lemon juice and add more salt to taste, if you like. Serve hot or warm.

Bon Appetit!