Tuesday, 28 July 2015

So Sweet, So Sour, So Try It!

Okra & Riso in Agrodolce con Peperone, Limone & Pomodori Secchi
Sweet & Sour Okra & Rice with Sweet Pepper, Lemon & Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Okra- one of those foods that you either love or hate... and being as I love it, I decided to do a little something different with it this evening, to try to change all of you haters minds! Haha!

I decided to follow my instincts on this one... And good golly, did I get lucky this time! This is a dish that I will definitely be making again and one that I will probably prepare for friends as well... It really is that good! And anyway... I love to challenge people now and again! Hehe!


Does this look a little different to the squishy, somewhat slimy-looking okra dishes that you may be used to seeing, or that you have tried in the past and disliked? I bet it does! And although I am not really one to brag... I have to say that it is definitely one of the nicest looking okra dishes that I have ever seen and definitely one of the nicest I have ever made!

But the best thing about it is the flavor! This is easily my favorite preparation for okra so far! Sweet and sour and scrumptious!


Possibly what made these especially delicious was the fact that they were very young and tender okra. Try to get the smallest and juiciest okra that you can, they will definitely taste much, much better than the large ones.

To make two servings, I needed only: 2 handfuls of okra, 1 small sweet red pepper, 2 sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato purée, 1 shallot, 1 lemon, some fresh parsley, dried oregano, salt, pepper, sugar and of course some good olive oil. Oh! And a cupful of rice!

Another thing that made preparing this meal so much fun, was that I used my tajine to cook it in! But fear not, if your saucepan has a lid, you should be fine, haha!

Seriously though, the real secret of this dishes success is the fact that all of the great flavors of these tasty and simple ingredients get trapped, rendered down and absorbed completely by the rice and okra, by the time it is finished. And you hardly have to lift a finger to make it happen!


Preparation here is simple... You just have to chop up all of your ingredients as finely as possible- haha! Grate or finely chop the zest of around 1/3rd of the lemon and squeeze the remaining juice, ready to add later on.

By the way, the green things you can see are the stalks of the parsley... I never throw those away and you shouldn't either! They are packed with flavor!

Pop your tajine or saucepan on the stove top with a little olive oil and whilst it heats up, trim the ends from the okra and give it a good rinse.

Begin by frying the shallot, pepper and parsley stalks in olive oil, with a good pinch of oregano and a teaspoon of sugar. Fry until the shallot becomes translucent.


Next, add the washed okra and the sun-dried tomatoes, toss quickly and go grab yourself a scoop of rice!


Now add the rice and the tomato purée and stir-in well. Add enough boiling water to cover everything well and reduced the heat to a low simmer, before putting on the lid and kissing it goodbye for 10 minutes.

Make sure you have plenty of water in there, but fear not, as it will all get absorbed and the tomato purée and sun-dried tomatoes will will make sure that the flavor will be rich and delicious.


After 10 minutes add the juice of the lemon, stir things through and return to a rolling boil with the lid on for a further 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes more, turn off the heat but do not remove the lid anymore. Allow to sit and to finish cooking in the residual heat and steam.

And when you finally remove the lid, after 20-25 minutes of cooking, you will be rewarded by a fluffy, delicious and unctuous dish like this!

Check the seasoning before serving and add lemon juice or sugar as necessary for a good flavor... but you will find that the tangy lemon juice and the sweetness of the pepper and sugar, together with the sun-dried tomatoes, the purée and the lemon zest, all go to give you an explosion of flavor! And I think you are going to love it!

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