Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

September 21st, 2009 · 13 Comments

Okra and Tomatoes Stewing ImageServes 4 to 6

This preparation is one of those that we grew up with in New Orleans and is popular as not only a staple dish in the south, but also contains the two main ingredients found fresh grown in many gardens and small farms across the southeastern states. Both okra and tomatoes require long and hot growing seasons and the south provides both in records each year. On Saturday, one of our baseball family friends Janet Begley and her family gave us a bag of their heirloom tomatoes and several bags of fresh okra they had just picked from their garden. Janet also gave us a few of their large cucumbers, and I turned them into a crisp cucumber and dill salad, more on that in another post. (NOTE: Click on images for a larger view)

Besides being a major component in gumbo, okra and tomatoes stewed down in the fashion with onions and garlic along with a few herbs like basil, thyme and oregano make a perfect side dish served along with some fresh steamed or boiled rice. Okra and tomatoes create a perfect marriage of taste and texture, similar to the romantic union of oysters and artichokes. Worlds apart, but perfect together! Smaller baby sized okra and juicy ripe tomatoes make the best of this dish, no extra liquid required with the exception of a little red wine vinegar, as the main ingredients create enough of their own juices when covered and stewed until done.

Okra tends to exude a thick slimy liquid when cut and cooked down, which is a benefit for some dishes, especially in the case of gumbo, however, many folks do not like the texture or mouth feel of the slim. Reducing the slimy effects of okra is resolved with an acid such as the juices extracted from the tomatoes, or with the addition of vinegar.

Okra and Tomatoes Served Image

The origins of this dish in the U.S. lead back to Creole heritage, as the word ‘okra’ is also known as quibombo in Spanish, and gombo in French. Slaves from West Africa introduced okra to the Caribbean and U.S. most likely in the 1700’s, and then the Creoles in Louisiana learned to thicken soups with okra (gumbo) which is now the essential ingredient in Creole Gumbo.  

If you want to keep this as a side dish and vegetarian then this preparation makes a perfect compliment with steamed or boiled brown rice. If however, you wish, an additional one pound of smoked sausage, ham or a half-pound of tasso when browned in the pan before the addition of the onions turns this into a great main dish item also served over any white or brown rice. Other variations also include an addition of shrimp toward the end of the preparation.

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups Onions, large diced
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Cups Fresh okra, cut into ½” to ¼” slices
3 Cups Tomatoes, large diced
½ Cup Red wine vinegar
1 Each Bay leaf
1 Tbsp Basil, fresh chopped
1 Tbsp Oregano, fresh chopped
½ Tbsp Thyme, fresh chopped
½ Tsp  Salt
¼ Tsp White pepper
Procedure Steps
1. Add olive oil to a 3-quart or larger saucepan and heat over medium high temperature.
2. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until soft and translucent then add the garlic and stir well, sauté for a few more minutes.
3. Add the okra, tomatoes and red wine vinegar and stir well to incorporate. Bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and fresh herbs stirring well then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.
5. Season to taste with the salt and white pepper, and serve with steamed or boiled brown or white rice.
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Tags: Creole · Culture · Recipes

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Heidi from Savory Tv // Sep 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Hearty fall comfort! I used to hate okra, or rather found it boring, but now I enjoy it. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful week.

  • 2 HoneyB // Sep 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Looks delish!

  • 3 Jessie // Sep 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    that looks wonderful, I never had okra until I went to visit my friend in Georgia a few years ago and that was when we went out to eat and I ordered a chicken gumbo that had okra in it, it was soooo good!

  • 4 Donalyn // Sep 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    This reminds me of my Grandma who grew up in Alabama and made okra for us every summer – just about like this!

  • 5 Cookin' Canuck // Sep 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I enjoyed learning the history of the dish. That fresh okra looks wonderful – far superior to what I find at the store.

  • 6 Hugging the Coast // Sep 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    What wonderful comfort food! Okra and tomatoes are an unbeatable combination!

  • 7 thepinkpeppercorn // Sep 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Delicious, and flavourful!! Thanks Ryan, I don’t have many recipes for okra this good!!

  • 8 sizzlechef // Sep 22, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Nice. Thank you for sharing. Cheers !

  • 9 Southern Grace Gourmet // Sep 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I love to make this dish!

  • 10 Lana // Sep 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Looks soooo good! I love okra just about any way you cook. I do a very similar okra and tomatoes, which is on my blog, but my most favorite is fried okra. I could eat it like popcorn!

  • 11 Elin // Sep 23, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Hi Chef Ryan,

    This is delicious….thanks for sharing 🙂

  • 12 Tracey // Nov 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Can’t wait to try this. Unfortunately I’ll have to use canned tomatoes and frozen okra. I’m sure it won’t be as good as using fresh garden ripened tomatoes and okra but I think it will be pretty darned tasty anyway.

  • 13 Cooking over the last 10 days | strangers in a strange land // Aug 31, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    […] Stewed okra and tomatoes in the cast-iron skillet. Confession: I had never cooked okra before and therefore had to Google “how much of the end of okra do you cut off” because that didn’t look the same as the middle (moral: I left in some ends and they tasted the same). Reasoning: we had this last week at husband’s grandmother’s post-funeral Cajun earlydinner/latelunch and I had the audacity to try it myself in my own northwest Louisiana non-Cajun kitchen without mentoring. Recommendation: I think it needed less red wine vinegar. Faux pas: used dried herbs and didn’t adjust measurements accordingly. Husband, who dislikes okra, declared it “tolerable” and left nothing in the bowl. […]