Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday night: red okra

Spiced okra and tomatoes over herbed couscous, with a glass of "Bittersweet" cider from Eve's Cidery.

This red okra actually dates from last week's greenmarket - we just hadn't gotten a chance to cook it until now. It held up very well in storage. Isn't it beautiful?

Okra is in the mallow family, which means it's related to hibiscus, cotton, and cocoa, and it probably originally comes from Ethiopia. This is the first time we've ever found red okra, which is a less common varietal than its green sibling. The pods are a beautiful lime-green on the inside, and though much of the color is lost in cooking, they do keep a reddish tinge.

This particular dish uses a Middle Eastern flavor combination: vinegar, cinnamon, parsley and mint. Like many okra preparations, it relies on an acidic ingredient - here, tomato - to cut the "gooey" texture okra has naturally.

Three colors of heirloom tomato, chilies, and white onion

Here the okra is chopped and braised in a deep pot with minced chilies; then the tomatoes, onion, and vinegar are added and allowed to simmer until the dish has a saucy texture. It's served over couscous which has been tossed with chopped mint and parsley.

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