Simple 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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Summer Tomato Recipe — Easy Remake of a Childhood Favorite From Lebanon

Summer Tomato Michelle Chahine Sinno Recipes Whole30

I wrote last year that part of my journey to find that ever-elusive work-life balance was to rediscover how to eat. It’s been a lot of reading (books and labels), planning ahead, shopping, and, of course, cooking.

Along the way, I’ve come to realize that so many of my favorite childhood foods from Lebanon (where I grew up) fit into the lauded “Mediterranean Diet” and Whole3o plan. Some of them are pretty complex to make, so I’ve been playing around with simple ways to recreate them by using accessible ingredients here in the U.S., simplifying process and cook time. I thought I’d share them here as part of my experiments with work-life balance and making the time to eat well.

For example, one of my favorite summer side dishes was thick slices of huge heirloom tomatoes slathered with garlic paste and drizzled with “sumac” (a flavorful Middle Eastern spice easily found on Amazon or in some supermarkets). Now this is as easy as it gets– except for making the garlic paste which is both tricky and time consuming.

However, making homemade, healthy olive oil garlic mayo takes less than five minutes (really!), is a delicious alternative, and the taste is nearly identical (OK, the original is a touch better, but just a touch).

Summer tomato Lebanese recipe Michelle Chahine Sinno

So, for two thick slices of heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, about one-inch thick (I found this delicious tomato at Trader Joe’s):

Heirloom Tomato recipe Lebanon Michelle Chahien Sinno

  • You want to use 3 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil mayo, slathered on thickly. Then drizzle the sumac on generously and add a dash of salt.
  • Voila! So simple and easy, perfect as a side dish to any protein, or, if you want, as a light dinner in the summer time (but then you’d need more than 2 pieces!)

Here’s the recipe for the homemade olive oil mayo, adapted from the one in The Whole30 Book:

  • One egg
  • One tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/4 cup light olive oil (not extra-virgin! It won’t emulsify right)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard power

1. Break the egg the egg (raw), pour the lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil, and the salt and mustard powder into a blender. Turn it on, and slowly drizzle in the remaining one cup of olive oil on top– as slowly as possible so it emulsifies. This should make about 1 and a half cups of mayo. Store in a jar in the fridge.

(Emulsifying trick: It really helps if the egg and lemon juice are at room temperature.)

2. Crush one large clove of garlic and whisk into three tablespoons of the olive oil mayo.

Lebanese recipe mezza summer tomato

 


I’m all about tomatoes this time of year! I started to notice summer tomatoes when I first read French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano, in which she highlights seasonal foods and recipes and shares her Simple Summer Tomato Salad recipe.

See my previous recipe posts: