Old-fashioned Okra and Tomatoes

I seldom eat okra, but I recently saw some beautiful okra at the local farmers’ market, and decided to give it a try. Then, of course, I had to find a hundred-year-old okra recipe. I found a delightful Okra and Tomatoes recipe in 1904 Kentucky cookbook, called The Bluegrass Cookbook.

The Okra and Tomatoes (and a little onion) were tasty, as well as easy-to-make and nutritious. One drawback – the okra had a bit of a gooey (some call it a slimy) texture; but that’s just par for the course for this vegetable.  No vegetable’s perfect.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Bluegrass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox (1904)

And, there’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Okra and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup okra, sliced

2 medium tomatoes

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Put okra in a saucepan, and add enough water to just barely cover it. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat to low and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, and thoroughly drain.

In the meantime, put a pan of water on the stove; bring to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water for about 15 seconds: remove from heat and gently slip the skin off the tomatoes. Core tomatoes, then dice.  Put the diced tomatoes in a saucepan, and using medium heat cook 5 minutes while stirring frequently; then add onions. Continue cooking and stirring until soft and juicy (about an additional 5 minutes). Stir in butter, salt, and pepper. Add cooked okra, and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Note: See the reader comments. Several readers suggested adaptations to this recipe that might improve the texture and make the okra less gooey.

19 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Okra and Tomatoes

  1. I’ll do okra, but pickled or fried are my preferences, just because of that slime. However: a friend told me this summer that soaking cut okra in vinegar for about ten minutes, and then rinsing it and adding it to recipes almost eliminates the slime. I haven’t tried it, and don’t know if it would work or not, but there it is.

  2. I am from Oklahoma and grew up eating okra and tomatoes which is classic throughout the south . The reason why it is a classic pairing is because when the okra is cooked with the tomatoes, The acid in the tomatoes eliminates the slime in the okra . My grandmother also added onion, bell pepper and celery to hers and we would serve it over rice . She would also make zucchini and tomatoes the same way just using zucchini in place of okra and it was delicious . You should update your recipe to cook the okra with the tomatoes and it will be a much better consistency , that’s the way it’s done in the south.

    1. Thanks for the information. Cooking the tomatoes and okra together sounds like it would improve the dish (and it definitely would be easier). I added a note to the updated recipe, which directs readers to the comments. It says, “See the reader comments. Several readers suggested adaptations to this recipe that might improve the texture and make the okra less gooey.”

  3. Okra is not a veggie that you see on menus in restaurants here in Belgium. We can buy it in African shops! I will try this recipe because I have never eaten okras before!

  4. Your dish looks very good. I like okra in all forms although I have to say that fried has always been my favorite. When I make okra and tomatoes, I cook them together. Just one less pot to wash. 🙂

    1. You’re definitely on the right track cooking them together in one pot – both to minimize the number of pots to wash and to improve the quality of the dish. I can’t figure out why the hundred-year-old recipe specifically indicates that the okra and tomatoes are to be cooked in separate pots. Comments that several people made following my original post convinced me that I needed to try making this dish a second (and a third) time. The okra is much less slimy when the tomatoes and okra are cooked together.

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