I love late summer for a few reasons:
2. Nighttime cricket serenades
3. Stewed Okra
My grandmother-in-law, Zelma, was born in raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina. At the grand age of 94, more than most of her memories are fleeting. Yet, if I mention okra, a twinkle appears in her eye. Just last week, when I told her our crop was coming on, she beamed and said with the sharpest clarity of earlier days, "Okra! Is there anything better than okra?"
She grew up with this dish as a summertime staple. I don't even attempt to compare this version to hers, but hopefully it is slightly reminiscent. Enjoy.
*1 sweet onion, chopped
*3 Tbsp butter
*2-3 cloves garlic, minced
*1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, or 1 large ripe heirloom tomato, chopped
*3 cups bush beans, rinsed, stems removed, chopped
*3 cups okra, tops removed, sliced into 1 inch pieces
*2 cups water
*2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
*sea salt and pepper
*1 cup chopped basil, divided
Place a heavy pot over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp butter, and onion. Saute for 3 minutes before adding garlic. Saute a few minutes, stirring often, then add the chopped tomatoes.
Simmer slightly. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Add bush beans and water. Stir.
Add okra, balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 cup of the chopped basil. Adjust seasonings, cover and simmer until beans and okra are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add additional water while cooking if needed.
Remove from heat.
Stir in the remaining Tbsp butter and chopped basil. Great over rice, or served with poached eggs, and/or local sausage.
Sometimes I start with a few strips of pancetta or pastured bacon in the heated pot. Remove the meat once brown and crispy with a slotted spoon and set aside. Use the fat in place of the butter. Serve okra with the crisp bacon sprinkled over top.
Also, you can make this in the winter months with your frozen okra and canned beans of any kind. I like a white bean or pinto. You can play around with this forever, adding all sorts of personal variations.
Red wine is a nice flavor to add as well.
Okra pods contain high levels of vitamin A, and flavonoid antioxidants such as xanthin, lutein, and beta carotenes. In fact, in the world of green vegetables, okra contains the most. These properties are essential for healthy vision, while also maintaining healthy skin. Such properties also help create a natural defence against lung and oral cancer.
Okra is a good source of vitamin C, K, B6, dietary fiber, folates, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Okra helps maintain a healthy digestive system and is commonly used as part of weight loss routines.