Simple Fall Okra Vegetarian Recipe

I’ve been seeing okra in the supermarket a lot over the past few weeks, and I’ve been remembering and craving a favorite dish from growing up in Lebanon. I called up my mom and dad for instructions on how to make Bamieh (okra) with tomatoes, onion, and garlic. I love the texture (though you have to be careful in prep to avoid too much goo from the pods, see the video below). Even though this is a vegetarian dish, it is super filling. I made a huge batch on Friday afternoon and used it all weekend, alternating as a side dish with some grilled chicken and as a main meal.

The okra I remember eating as a child was much smaller than the ones I found in markets here. So I had to adjust the cook time for these larger pods. It’s a very simple recipe, but does need to simmer on the oven for about an hour in total, the perfect backdrop for reading in the evenings or if you have other work to do around the kitchen/stove.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb okra. Try to select smaller pods.
  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5-6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • Ground allspice. (You can find this in most supermarkets in the spices section).

I actually recommend doubling this recipe. It’s almost the same amount of work, and it lasts for several meals.

Instructions

Slice the onion lengthwise into big chunks. Dice the 3 garlic cloves.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, remove only the outer peel of the garlic heads.

Put the chopped onion, diced garlic and whole garlic heads in the oil for about 5-7 minutes. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Stir frequently.

Wash and dice the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and allspice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally

While the tomatoes simmer, wash and trim the okra. This is a great short video on how to cut the pods without releasing the “slime” inside:

Either boil the okra (as in the video above), or pan-fry in olive oil on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, tossing often.

Add the okra to the tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Add 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp coarse salt. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Then cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes. You want the okra to be quite soft.

Serve as a main meal or side dish. Let me know if you try it out!

Optional: As a kid, we’d eat it with whole wheat pita bread, scooping it into the bread pieces with our hands.

Here’s the recipe as a list without the photos. (Again I recommend doubling it!)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb okra. Try to select smaller pods.
  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5-6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  • Allspice

Instructions

  1. Slice the onion lengthwise into big chunks. Dice the 3 garlic cloves.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove only the outer peel of the garlic heads.
  4. Put the chopped onion, diced garlic and whole garlic heads in the oil for about 5-7 minutes. Season with coarse salt and black pepper. Stir frequently.
  5. Wash and dice the tomatoes.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and allspice. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally
  7. While the tomatoes simmer, wash and trim the okra. This is a great short video on how to cut the pods without releasing the “slime” inside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f3GGGolDXI
  8. Either boil the okra (as in the video above), or pan-fry in olive oil on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, tossing often.
  9. Add the okra to the tomato, onion and garlic sauce. Add tsp black pepper, 1 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp coarse salt. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Then cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes. You want the okra to be quite soft.
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Simple Mediterranean Flavors Go Far: Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic.

If you’re new to this blog, please read this first!

lebanese-squash-kousa-summer-recipe-mediterranean-simple-dinner-michelle-chahine-sinno

As Pat Conroy wrote:

a recipe is a story

And I now know–and am continuing to explore how–these recipes are a part of my story.

Being back on the Mediterranean last month in early September really reminded me of the wonders of olive oil and lemon juice– and garlic of course!

Today,  I want to share one of my favorite side dishes that works well both towards the end of the summer because of its freshness, and in the fall because, as anyone who walks into any market can attest, it’s squash season.

A couple of years ago, while I was rediscovering how to eat, I found this white summer squash at the supermarket, and I immediately thought of one of the dishes I used to love when I was a teen in Lebanon.

summer-white-squash-kousa

I had become so used to seeing regular zucchini, that I was surprised to find them so casually at my neighborhood Ralph’s (Kroger-subsidiary in Southern California.

white-squash-recipe-vegetable-side-dish

I immediately bought a bag-full and was so excited to recreate an old favorite out of memory that evening. This is the perfect recipe to share in post #2 of delicious childhood recipes from Lebanon that make for simple, easy, quick and healthy dinners. To make it a full meal, you can roast some chicken in the oven, and make this easy 15-minute dish when you’re ready to eat:

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (Tip from my mom: Squeeze a lot of lemon juice every few days and keep a small jar in the fridge at all times to reduce cooking/salad-making time in the evenings.)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed (I love this garlic press I found at Williams-Sonoma. Another great way to reduce prep time).
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 3 lbs white squash (You can use regular zucchini, below left, if you can’t find these).

  1. Crush the 2 large garlic cloves and pour salt over them in a medium-sized bowl. Mash a bit with a fork. (This is a tip from my mother-in-law who’s a great cook. Really unleashes the fresh flavor of the garlic)simple-dinner-recipe-squash
  2. Then pour in the olive oil and lemon juice over the garlic and salt, and whisk all together. Let them sit together to infuse.
  3. Boil a large pot of salted water.
  4. Wash the squash and cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
  5. When the water boils, add the squash pieces, cook for 3 minutes and drain well. You want them a bit crispy because they’ll continue to cook once they’re off the heat. Don’t worry if they brown a bit too.
  6. Add the squash to the bowl with the sauce mixture. Add a dash of black pepper. Toss and enjoy! (Yes, that easy).

Best when served fresh and warm, but does OK if you have leftovers for lunch the next day.

lebanon-squash-recipe-food

I recommend serving this in a small bowl. You want to have plenty of the sauce with each bite of squash.

michelle-chahine-sinno-squash-lebanon-recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: You can use this sauce and method with so many other vegetables, including thin green beans and potatoes. I’ll share these at a later point. But I love the combo with squash.