Okra with Tomatoes and Ginger

I experimented with okra for the first time today. I've had it in bhindi masala, and now bameih b'zeit, so I know I like it. I wasn't at all in the mood for anything spiced or masala-ish today, but my husband insisted that okra is quite flavorful on it's own, and doesn't need much spicing.

The main ingredients I used seem quite traditional to the Indian dish: okra, potato, tomato, onion. I was also influenced by the mild, sweet flavor of the Lebanese bameih b'zeit which is finished with cilantro and lemon. I was also intent on tying in ginger, since I'm trying to maintain recovery from last week's stomach issues.

The resulting stew-like meal turned out pretty good. I think I liked the okra a little better before it was totally cooked - it had a nice crispness to it like an al-dente green bean. My only real complaint is that I used a new type of potato, which I should have tried on it's own first. The teeny-tiny Rose Finn Apple Fingerling potatoes would do much better roasted with some spices, as they added nothing to the okra dish, and didn't soak up the juices. I think the rest of the ingredients worked well together, since we hardly had any leftovers. I might try adding chickpeas next time for protein.

We have all heard how wonderful onions, garlic, and the lycopene from cooked tomatoes are for your health, but here are some facts about okra:

-Low in calories
-High in fiber
-Rich in vitamin A, C and anti-oxidants
-Also good source of B-complex vitamins and vitamin K.
-Very high in folates

When buying okra, look for 2-3" long, bright green, firm, unblemished pods. Don't choose any with brown spots or that feel soft. To prepare, rinse and remove the stem end. Slice into circles, about 3/8" thick.

Okra with Tomatoes and Ginger 
approx. 4 servings
20 minutes

1 T olive oil
2 T margarine
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/2 C onion, diced
2 C okra, cut into rounds
2 tomatoes (use good tomatoes, like vine-ripe, campari or heirloom for the best flavor)
**optional: 1/2 C chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Lemon juice (from 1/4 lemon - about 2 T)
1/4 C fresh Cilantro, chopped
Kosher Salt & Pepper

1. Heat oil and margarine over medium heat in a deep skillet. Add the onions and ginger and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent.

2. Add okra and cook, stirring frequently for about 8 minutes. My husband says it's best to let them stick to the pan and get a little crispy - but don't let the onions burn. Season with a sprinkle of salt.

3. When the okra begins to change color (darker) add the tomatoes. *This is when you could add some cooked chickpeas if desired. Reduce heat to simmer, season with salt and pepper and cover. Cook 5 minutes more until okra is the desired doneness.

4. Before serving, toss in the cilantro and add the lemon juice. Serve with rice and your favorite flat bread, naan, or warm pita.
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