There are a few rules I try to live by when it comes to cooking
1. Make at least twice the amount you need so that you can have leftovers
2. Make a versatile dish that includes LOTS of vegetables (to use up the surplus of veggies in the the fridge I had intended to use but never did HAHA)
3. Make something that you can pretty throw everything together and leave it so you can do other things in your busy life (like, you know, frantically search for everyone’s swim goggles before lessons that evening).
I feel like I’ve been making this particular dish for quite some time, using different techniques, cooking times, vegetables, cookware, etc. To be honest, I never really wrote anything down, or paid much attention to what I was actually doing, and I certainly couldn’t remember what combinations I liked the best.
Until I went on vacation.
We were on an all-inclusive trip and while I’ll admit the buffet selections aren’t always fantastic, there was a dish they had every night that I was absolutely drawn to! It was delicious whether I paired it with rice, chickpeas, chicken, or with fish… I don’t even know what it was called, but it was a tomato-based dish that had lots of okra, along with other veggies.
Can I admit something? I loooooooove okra in stew and stir-fry dishes. It’s the perfect addition to a recipe like this because when you cut okra, it releases a gelatinous substance (some might say “gooey” or “slimy”) that’s not only nutritious, but helps thicken soups, stews or gumbo.
Okra is abundant in several vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, and there are several reasons why you may want to try including them in your diet:
The dish I fell in love with on our Cuban vacay kind of reminded me of the one I was preparing for the last few years (but mine didn’t have a name, and it didn’t have okra in it – I had to do both!). So when I came home, I decided to actually try and perfect it (I mean, as much as I could), and write down how-to, how much, and how long. You know, an actual recipe!
The ingredient list may seem a bit long, but I promise it’s an easy recipe. What I’ve also learned is that it’s a very versatile and forgiving recipe, so if you don’t have some of the ingredients, or miss a step, it’s really not a big deal!
My advice is to just have fun with it! Feel free to follow as-is or make it your own by including ingredients you really love.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
1 medium eggplant, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups okra (about 16 pods), chopped
2 bell peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
6 oz tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp black pepper
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute
Stir in eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and okra. Season with salt, paprika, basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper and stir for 2-3 minutes
Add tomato paste and diced tomatoes, and stir until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender
Serve as a side with chicken or fish, or mix in chickpeas, beans, or lentils for a very tasty vegetarian one-pot dish