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Spicy Okra Stew

This recipe uses seasonings popular in the eastern Mediterranean region: aromatic coriander, musky cumin and spicy cayenne. Parsley not only adds appealing, bright color, but also lends the stew a fresh herbal taste that balances the earthy spices, hearty okra and tart-sweet tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 lb. fresh okra
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • Leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl two-thirds full with ice water. One at a time, lower the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds. Immediately plunge each tomato into the ice water, let stand for a few seconds and then drain the cooled tomatoes. Peel the skin from each tomato, then coarsely chop the flesh.

Remove the stems, and tails if tough, from the okra and then cut the okra into slices about 1/4 inch thick.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the okra and sauté until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté until the okra is just tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Add the garlic, cayenne, coriander, cumin and a pinch each of salt and black pepper and cook for another minute to blend the flavors. Add the tomatoes and water and simmer until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture begins to thicken, 7 to 9 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the stew from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).