Okra and tomatoes are a "match made in heaven". The flavor of each ingredient compliments the other and even enhances it. I kept that in mind when developing this recipe for my cooking demonstration last weekend at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I wanted to showcase an updated version of a classic Southern okra and tomato dish.
The smoky flavor of the okra comes from smoked paprika. This spice is made by smoking, drying and grinding Alma peppers. I recommend cooking the okra in a cast iron skillet because it maintains a consistant high heat, which helps to caramelize the edges of the okra. The result is great flavor and a non-slimey texture. Coulis is simply a fancy word for a pureed sauce. I call this coulis "rustic" because the skin, core and seeds of the tomato are not discarded. Instead they partake in the thick, yet smooth, texture of the blended sauce.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¾ pound roma tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound okra, sliced into ½ inch rounds
- Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan.
- Add garlic, constantly stirring, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and the tomatoes are broken down, about 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt together in a small bowl.
- Heat canola oil in a medium cast iron skillet. Add okra to the skillet and cook over medium high heat for about 2-4 minutes, undisturbed. Stir the okra and cook undisturbed for an additional 2-4 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low. Add the spices and toss with the okra; constantly stirring, until fragrant; about 30 seconds.
- When the tomatoes are done cooking, blend with an immersion blend until smooth.
- To serve, place a spoonful of rustic tomato coulis on a plate and top with smoky okra.
Recipe Developed by: Chef Ashley R. Van Cise, RDN, LD