This has got to be one of my favorite recipes. It’s ridiculously simple, southern, and can be served as a side dish or can easily stand on its own as a main course.
I started with about a pound of locally grown okra I picked up from Good Earth Produce & Garden Center, a pound of fresh Roma tomatoes from my garden, and this lovely evening light casting shadows through the window.
The only kind of drama I like: dramatic lighting.
We’re going to start by rinsing off our tomatoes and okra in the sink. Then we need to give them both a rough chop. We’re not going for precise or pretty, just dice it on up because you’re going to be impatient to get this in a bowl once you smell it cooking on the stovetop.
I forgot to photograph the chopped tomatoes, but that’s okay, right? You’ve seen chopped tomatoes. It’s that whole anticipation thing I mentioned to you.
Now, you have two options. Relax, you can’t go wrong either way.
Option 1: If you’re like me, you don’t have any bacon unthawed when you need it but you do have a tin of bacon grease stored in the freezer. I’m Southern, of course I have bacon grease stored up to add flavor to any dish. There are always bacon emergencies. If you fall in to this category, go ahead and heat up about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in a pan over medium heat.
Option 2: Unlike me, you may be a planner. You may actually have bacon waiting to be cooked in your fridge at this very moment. If that’s you, go ahead and throw 3 slices of bacon into your pan and cook it to your preferred crispness then remove the slices to cool.
Option 3: Okay, I said there were only two options because those should be your only two options but I understand sometimes you don’t have bacon or bacon grease (It’s okay, I’m not judging you). If this is you, I won’t tell. Just pour a tablespoon of olive oil in and I’ll look the other way.
By the way, if you live in the CSRA and want to try real bacon, call or message the good people at Tink’s Grass-Fed Beef. We purchased a quarter cow from them at the beginning of the year and now we will also be purchasing all of our bacon from them as well. Once you taste real bacon, there’s no going back. The beef and pork from their farm to your table is all-natural. (I didn’t get paid to say that either, I just really believe in eating well and supporting local farmers.)
If the stewed tomatoes and okra will be your main dish, you may want to serve it over rice. Instant rice popped in the microwave for 5 minutes rocks my socks as much as jasmine rice cooked on the stovetop for 20 minutes. You do you! If you want the rice, go ahead and get it started.
Next, we’re going to add our chopped okra to the bacon grease or olive oil (no judgment, remember?) and turn up our heat to medium-high. Stir fry for a few minutes and then add in a 1/4 cup chopped onion with the okra.
Once the onions have started to soften (around 5 minutes), we’ll turn our heat back down to medium-low and add in our chopped tomatoes, a 1/2 cup water, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. (The cayenne is optional, I just like to add a little spice)
Cover the pan, stirring occasionally. We want the okra to become tender and the tomatoes to start falling apart. This took about 20 minutes for me.
You’re going to have a decent amount of juice from the tomatoes. If that’s your jam, then keep it. If you don’t want to get your rice too soggy, feel free to remove some juice from the pan.
If you were a planner and chose option 2, crumble up the 3 slices of bacon you cooked at the beginning and add it in with your stewed tomatoes and okra. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over this gorgeous dish and you’re ready to serve it over a bed of rice.
Stewed Tomatoes and Okra
- 1 lb okra, chopped
- 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 3 slices bacon OR 2 tbsp bacon grease OR 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup cooked rice
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a pan, render fat from 3 bacon slices (you can choose to add 2 tbsp bacon grease or 1 tbsp olive oil instead) and remove slices to a plate to cool.
- Begin cooking your rice (microwave or stovetop is fine)
- Raise heat to medium high and stir fry your chopped okra for a few minutes before adding in your 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, until onion begins to soften.
- Add your chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, and cayenne pepper (optional)
- Cover your pan and reduce heat to medium-low to get a good simmer, stirring occasionally. Check back after 15-2o minutes to check okra for tenderness and the tomatoes should be falling apart.
- Remove some of the tomato juice from the pan if you don’t want your rice to get too soggy.
- Chop up your 3 bacon slices if that was the option you chose in step 1 and add it to the pan.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Serve over rice.
Up next on Leseberg Holler, I’ll be doing a Southern Fried Edition! Check back soon for fried green tomato and fried okra recipes.