Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Meatless Monday’

A simple Arabic-influenced okra stew quicky cookly when you use frozen, pre-chopped okra and ample spices. In Arabic they cal this bamiyeh.

Hey guys! I’m finally back with a recipe post, as promised. Today it’s a quick Arabic-inspired okra stew. Growing up in Texas, we used to always eat okra stir fried.  Honestly, I don’t even know if this is the right term. All I know is that  my mom would grab some emerald green pods from the garden, chop them into disks, and pan fry them with a bit of onion, tomato, oil and corn meal.

Beautiful okra pods! Image courtesy of FotoSearch.com

Sometimes simple things are the best, and this okra method was no exception. Magically, the orka would take on a texture somewhere between crunchy and soft. It was never slimy, and so much healthier than the deep-fried okra so popular in the South.

It wasn’t until moving away from home and doing some traveling in the Middle East that I was introduced to stewed okra. At first I didn’t think I’d like it–figured the slimy texture would put me off– but I was wrong. Stewed okra is just another way to love this versatile veggie. Especially over a big pile of basmati rice. Sign me up now, ya’ll!

An Arabic spice blend and a tomatoey broth gives this stew a lovely flavor.

Regarding okra, I used to be a bit of a purist. Only freshly picked pods from the garden (if we had one that year) for this girl. Farm stand okra is popular in Texas, and it would do  in a pinch. If we did buy it from the regular grocery store, we’d always take our time to pick out the smallest, most flavorful pods. The bigger the pod, the higher the odds that it’d be tough and maybe even bitter. Now that I live in the big city, where gardens are in short supply and farmers’ markets in high demand, I’m a bit more flexible.

Since okra’s technically not even in season yet, this time I took the plunge and bought a bag of frozen okra that had already been cut. It was on sale for $1.50. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the result of a quickie okra stew with Arabic spices, but I was pleasantly surprised. Now I’m wishing I’d bought a second bag of the frozen okra, so that I could play around with some different flavors. Next time for sure!

A closer view of this simple, fast Arabic Okra Stew.

This super simple okra stew recipe took all of 20 minutes. Now if you want a softer, more tender okra, cook it until it reaches your desired tenderness. For all the purists out there, this isn’t the exact classic Arabic style okra. It is a quick approximation. I’ll post a more traditional recipe as okra comes into season in the coming months. For that matter,  a Persian take on okra stew will get its moment in the sun as well. For now, with the bargain-priced frozen okra, here we go:

20 Minute Arabic Inspired Okra Stew (Bamiyeh)

Serves 2-4. Doubles easily.

Ingredients:

1-2 teaspoons of good olive oil

1 16 ounce bag of frozen, sliced okra

1 medium onion

2 large garlic cloves

Arabic Spice Blend-a scant teaspoon each of powdered cumin, coriander, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves. Plus 1/2 teaspoon each of powdered cinnamon and ginger.

1 Bay leaf

1 14-16 ounce can of whole or chopped tomatoes (low sodium, please!)

1-2 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock (low sodium again, please!)

Salt and pepper to taste (not giving exact amounts, because this will vary depending on your taste and the amount of salt in your tomatoes and/or stock)

Directions:

1. In a medium Dutch oven, heat olive oil over a low flame.

2. As oil heats, chop onion into a small dice. Finely mince garlic or cut into pieces. (If mincing, I prefer to use a grater)

3. Add onion to oil, and cook over a medium low heat for five minutes.  Add garlic and all spices, and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute, just until spices’ aroma starts to bloom. Turn off flame and remove from heat.

4. Add okra pods and tomatoes. If using who canned tomatoes, use the back of your cooking spoon or spatula to break them into pieces. Mix everything well. Add in about one cup of stock, and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Place back on the burner, crank up the heat to high, and get the mixture to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, drop down the heat and simmer ten minutes on a very low flame. After ten minutes, check the spices and tenderness of the okra. If you desire a more tender okra texture, continue to cook until that desired texture is reached, adding in stock or water as needed if the mixture starts to dry out.

6. Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Marinated olives! Easy, quick, and tasty. Photo by Stacey Young.

Once, many moons ago, I didn’t like olives. Yes, I know, hard to believe, right, especially seeing as I pretty much live for them now! I think my dislike stemmed in part from the fact that up until a few years ago, most olives available in the United States were mainly canned or jarred and not so high quality. Too salty, to briney, sometimes too mushy. Plus, it didn’t help that the only olives I’d ever really seen were in martini glasses (chic, but not an everyday drink–at least not for me  😉 ) or embedded in bologna (ick).

A beautiful olive tree. To me, olive trees look like a cross between a shrub and a tree. Either way, they're gorgeous. Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com.

At a long-ago dinner party, though, all of that changed. My friend Amy brought some marinated olives to the gathering, and I decided to take a chance and try them. Boy am I glad I did. They were so fresh, and the herbs (rosemary and parsley, I think) and that extra dousing of olive oil really made their flavors sing.

Look at their silvery leaves! I think those leaves are so beautiful, not to mention the olives themselves.

During my trips to Syria and Spain, I fell a bit deeper in love with the humble yet mighty olive. Their trees are almost more like a cross between a shrub and a tree. They look so non-descript at first, with their cute little silvery leaves. Yet they’re so powerful. One might even say mythical. The amazing olive (and its branch) has played a role in history since ancient times. Even the Koran namechecks the olive, mentioning it six times.

Today’s recipe couldn’t be simpler.  Pick the most gorgeous olives you can find. Drizzle them with the highest quality olive oil you have on hand. Bits of garlic and herbs add color and punch. These marinated olives make a great dinner party appetizer! Remember to put them in the fridge if you don’t gobble them in one sitting.

Levant Style Marinated Olives

1 cup of olives of choice

Olive oil for drizzling

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Herbs of choice (I like parsley best)

Directions:

1. Toss olives gently in a few glugs of the olive oil. Add in herbs and garlic, and toss again.

Read Full Post »