After spending about two months in a place surrounded by some of the tallest skyscrapers, opulent shopping malls, manmade private islands, and luxury convenience I cannot help but miss the comfort of sheer simplicity. There is something about a raw and grounded lifestyle that makes me feel at home. The utter content that I feel from wandering through the olive groves on a breezy Autumn day to sitting back on my balcony while seeking inspiration from the the bustling street rhythms to simply washing a large batch of freshly picked dirt-ridden vegetables is in my opinion, happiness. It may sound quite cliche, but life is indeed about the simple things, particularly in these fast paced times.
In respect to this splendid beauty of living simply, I am posting one of my favorite Palestinian recipes with a vegetarian twist. It is fresh, wholesome, nourishing, satisfying, effortless, and oh so reflective of the kind of lifestyle that is important to my family and I. Sautéed okra cooked in a flavorful and herby tomato puree with the perfect combination of spices make for a lunch or dinner to remember. I always love to serve it with a side of freekeh, but it’s also wonderful when dipped in warm bread, as is traditionally enjoyed.
Here is to sharing love and joy in the form of good food.
INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 3-4
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
pinch chili flakes,
7 large tomatoes (about 1 kilo), very finely chopped or pureed
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
good grinding of freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (about 380 gr.) frozen okra, thawed
1. Sautee the onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat while stirring constantly. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onion becomes soft and transparent. Stir in the garlic and chili flakes and cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Stir the pureed tomatoes, turmeric, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper into the pan and let the mixture come to a simmer. Then, cover and bring the heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes before adding the okra. In the meantime, take out a separate pan to sauté the okra.
3. Drizzle the pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil and set the heat to high. Stir in the okra and lightly season with salt. Sauté for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden and tender. Stir the okra into the tomato puree and leave to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Check for salt and add to your taste.
4. Serve with freekeh, rice, or bread and enjoy! Chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.