Lady’s Fingers – a poetic name for a day-to-day vegetable, also known as okra. Maybe the lovely pale yellow flower sheds a little poetry over the seed pod that grows out of its heart, and which we eat as a vegetable. In the Middle East, we call it bameeyah. Read our recipe for Lebanese okra too.
Okra’s in season now, and you can read about more peak June produce here. Fussy housewives linger over the piles of those slender green fingers, using a time-tested method to determine freshness . “The way to tell if okra is fresh,” one such lady told me at the shuk, “is by snapping the pointed end off. If it won’t snap off but only bends, it’s old and will be stringy.”
Another thing I learned in my okra researches at the shuk is that the best okra are the small pods with a bright, not dark color. Look for young, small pods no more than 10 cm. – 4 inches in length. Any longer, and the pod will be tough. A final tip from my on-the-spot teacher: wipe your okra dry before chopping, for easier handling.
You can learn a lot of things from small elderly ladies wearing head-kerchiefs.
Store okra in the refrigerator, but cook within two days to get the best flavor and nutrition out of it. in fact, it’s so packed with vitamins, minerals, and good-for-you fiber that it deserves to go under the superfood category.
Okra Stewed In Tomato Sauce
1 kg- 2 lbs okra
1 large onion
1 cup fresh button mushrooms, measured after slicing
1 large can chopped tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 bell peppers, – one green and one red, for a pretty presentation
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ to 1 cup olive oil
Cut the stem ends of the pods away. Rinse, then dry.
Slice the onions and mushrooms. Mince the garlic. Chop the peppers into dice.
Fry the okra in the oil until the pods change color to brown. Drain on crumpled newspaper.
Saute the onions in a few tablespoons of oil, until they wilt. Add the mushrooms and continue frying until the onions are golden.
Add the bell peppers and fry another 4 minutes, stirring. Add the okra; stir. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings. Stir again and cook, covered, over low heat for 10 minutes.
Serve hot, over rice.
More early-summer seasonal foods on Green Prophet:
Image of okra via Shutterstock.