I walked into the back door and saw my husband at the stove. He was taking the last sizzling pork chop from the pan.
“God bless that man,” I thought to myself, grateful for my thoughtful fellow and his willingness to lend a helping hand in the kitchen.
I dropped a plastic sack from the farmers market on the counter.
“What’s that?” my husband asked.
“Fresh okra, the little bitty pods,” I said.
I planned cook the two-inch long vegetables with a couple of pints of the home canned tomatoes that I had put up a few nights prior. Stewed okra and tomatoes is one of my favorites. The mixture would be served over brown rice. The pork chops that were now through cooking would definitely pair well with the whole grain and vegetables.
I set to work washing to okra and then closely trimming the stem ends close to the pod.
I always avoid cutting into the okra pod. Once the pod is cut and cooked, the dreaded “goo” emerges. The goo is the biggest red flag that most okra opponents wave.
Most folks agree about the okra goo; it is pretty bad looking stuff. But you can steer clear of the entire discussion if you leave the vegetable intact for cooking.
I gave a splash of canola oil to the bottom of a hot pot, added a handful of diced onions, garlic powder and the clean, trimmed okra.
The pods turned light green and then bright green.
They smelled so wonderfully fresh. After four or five minutes of sautéing, the onions were translucent and the pot was ready for the addition of the jarred tomatoes.
The pot bubbled for 20 minutes or so while the rice finished cooking.
Once completed, the final product looked like a Christmas decoration: red and green in every direction.
A bed of brown rice smothered in the vegetable mixture and doused with hot sauce was the highlight of the meal for me. The guys were busy wolfing down the chops.
But my husband definitely ate his fair share of the veggie concoction.
Like me, he was raised with a garden behind the house and childhood suppers often consisted at least partially of food picked earlier in the day.
So the tomatoes and okra on our dinner table this night was a familiar and welcome taste.
The numerous health benefits of the dish were the far from our mind during supper. We were busy enjoying the flavor.
However, the combination of okra, tomatoes and brown rice provides an array of good-for-you nutrients including lots of vitamins and antioxidants plus protein and fiber.
Good taste and good nutrition don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
It’s great when your family can enjoy fresh, delicious food and you can be comfortable about the nutrition it delivers.
Okra plants will continue to bear their pods into late summer.
Seek out your local farmers market or roadside stand to take advantage of fresh okra in your area while it is still available.
All you need to add is a saucepan with a few tomatoes and your dinner table will be a healthy, happy one tonight.