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.

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