Sunday, February 19, 2012

Okra with Corn & Zucchini Saute

The produce market I frequent recently featured a new crop of okra. Not a  vegetable most markets carry year round, these were beautiful, unblemished, fresh looking okra, that I simply couldn't pass up. Ordinarily, I would prepare them the way my mother did, by sauteing them with some garlic, onion, and perhaps green pepper. Then she would pour a can of chopped tomatoes over the mixture and let it stew until all the vegetables were well cooked and the flavors have a chance to come together. Though simple and quite delicious, I wanted to change things up a bit.  

With a simple search on the internet, this recipe from Epicurious popped up. Always one to go for the pretty pictures, this one looked particularly enticing with its interesting mix of ingredients and splash of bright colors. What really sold me was use of cilantro to give it a whole new flavor dimension. And, indeed, it does. 

I changed the recipe a bit to suit my preferences. The most significant was to simply saute the okra with the rest of the vegetables, instead of dredging them in cornmeal and then deep frying them in oil. I also added the red peppers for more color, plus I personally love the flavor they add to dishes. 

The flavors in this dish are quite pronounced, so it is best served alongside a simply prepared meat or fish entree. Or, start the dish off with some sauteed sausage or ground meat and it can become a perfectly delicious entree unto itself. 

Okra with Corn & Zucchini Saute
1 lb. okra, trimmed and washed
2-3 green onions, sliced
1 small red sweet pepper, diced
1 zucchini, medium dice
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 - 1/2 c. chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. olive oil

The okra can remain whole or chopped into bite-sized pieces, as I have done. 

In a medium Dutch oven or large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the red peppers on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook to release the garlic flavor. Now add the zucchini and okra. Stir and cook for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, and cook till the tomatoes begin to breakdown. Now add the corn and cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are well cooked. 

Add the green onions and cilantro. Mix and saute for another minute or two, and serve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Red Cabbage Slaw - Zippity Quick

Here is the easiest slaw ever! With the help of my Oxo mandoline slicer and my cool julienne slicer, making this healthy, crunchy, delicious cabbage slaw is a cinch. My Cuisinart tends to pulverize rather than shred, so when a very thin slice or shredding vegetables is required, I prefer to use my mandoline. It's a tool I find myself using quite frequently these days.  

The recipe here is a simple one - red cabbage, some onion (I like a combo of red and green onion), carrot, celery, a few golden raisins to add a little sweetness, and a vinaigrette dressing.  Aside from the carrot, where I prefer to use the julienne slicer, all of the vegetables can be shredded on the mandoline in a flash.  If I'd had it on hand, I would also add either some fennel, or jicama for even more crunch.

Red Cabbage Slaw
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, julienne
2 T. golden raisins
1/4 c. red onion, very finely sliced
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. sugar or 2 tsp. honey
2 T. rice, cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. light salad oil 
Shred the cabbage, celery, red onion with the mandoline.  Use the julienne slicer for the carrot. Chop the green onion. 
Mix all veggies together. Add the golden raisins. Season the mixture with the salt, pepper, celery seed, sugar (or honey). Add the vinegar and oil. Toss and let sit in the refrigerator for a bit for the flavors to blend.  Enough for 4-6 servings. 
Oh so simple and fast!