Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Okra is not well-known outside the southern states, which is understandable in that it's a hot-weather crop. Fried okra, of course, is immensely popular and has gained fame even in northern climes, but real okra lovers appreciate its flavor when it is stewed -- that is, cooked slowly with a little liquid. Okra can be stewed alone or with other vegetables, most notably tomatoes. Ideally, you should have small pods of fresh okra and big, juicy tomatoes for this recipe to be at its best.

  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup -- sometimes it's hard to find a small sweet onion, so use half a medium onion)
  • 2 cups okra, rinsed, trimmed and sliced (see below)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juice)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or 1 tablespoon bacon drippings and 1 tablespoon olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a saucepan or sauté pan with a close-fitting lid, sauté the onion in the bacon drippings over medium heat until softened, not browned.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the okra and tomatoes.
  3. Add the salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the pepper.

Note: If using small pods of fresh okra, just trim the stem ends, leaving the pods whole. If the pods are larger (over 2 inches long), slice them in half.

People try to be kind to okra by describing its texture as "silky," a euphemism, to be sure. There's no getting around it: okra, especially stewed okra is slimey. There should be another word that does it justice, but I'm afraid the English language is lacking. But I refuse to defend okra. It's delicious -- so much so that I enjoy that slimey texture. There's an old one-liner about okra that goes like this: When I was a kid, I ate so much okra I couldn't keep my socks up.

Ready in: 30 Min

Recipe editor Patricia Mitchell