Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pan Charred Okra -- Yum!

While I have never met a vegetable I did not like, okra is definitely a vegetable that I do not know very well.  Anxious to forge a relationship with this mucilaginous or gooey plant, I was happy to encounter this recipe (which I modified ever so slightly), while browsing through my favorite cookbook, Jerusalem, for some Middle-Eastern-Vegan inspiration the other day.  This fresh okra recipe calls for "charring" the okra in a dry pan first, and then doing a quick sauté in olive oil.  Not only does this method impart a wonderful charred flavor into the okra, but it reduces the characteristic okra slime that some people find unappealing.

I started off with about 1 lb. of fresh okra.  With a sharp knife I carefully cut off the stems right where they meet the pod, making sure the seeds were not exposed, and then I touched up the edges, as needed. 

Next, I heated up a heavy bottomed pan until it was very hot (for about 2 minutes) and then tossed in 1/2 the okra and cooked it in the dry hot pan for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until the okra was blistered.  I then repeated the process with the other half of the okra.

In the meantime, I thinly sliced 4-5 cloves of garlic and removed a nice chunk of rind from 1/2 a lemon.

Once the second batch of okra was ready, I reduced the heat on the stove to medium-high, returned the first half of the blistered okra to the pan, and stirred in 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, along with the lemon rind and sliced garlic.  I cooked the ingredients for about 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon.

Then I reduced the heat to medium low and added about 8 beautiful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and seasoned with just a bit of salt, along with 2 tablespoons of water, and 1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro and Italian flat leaf parsley.  I let that all cook together gently for about 5 more minutes.

Finally I seasoned the dish with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and served it to myself for lunch.  It was delicious!

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