Classic southern stewed okra and tomatoes, with bacon, bell pepper, onions, celery, okra and tomatoes.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
There’s a reason why the Southern dish of stewed okra and tomatoes is timeless. It’s just plain good!
First you start with browning some bacon, then you add the holy trinity—onions, bell pepper, and celery, then the tomatoes, okra and spices. Everything is cooked together until tender and almost falling apart.
Okra is a summer vegetable but you can get frozen okra all year round which is perfectly fine stewed like this. If you don’t have access to okra at all, you can prepare green beans in a similar manner (see recipe).
Do you have a favorite summer okra dish? Please let us know about it in the comments. I love okra and am always looking for ways to cook with it.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style Recipe
You can use either whole or thickly sliced okra for this recipe.
Obviously we believe this dish is best with bacon, but if you don't eat bacon or want to make a vegetarian dish, leave it out and use a tablespoon or two of olive oil instead.
- 2 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch wide slices (lardons)
- 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 cup diced bell pepper (about 1 bell pepper)
- 1/2 cup diced celery (about one rib)
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
- 1 pound (16-ounces) of frozen or fresh okra, whole or thickly sliced, trimmed of tough tops if whole, defrosted if frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 pinch of cayenne
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 scant pinch of ground cloves (watch it on the ground cloves, a little goes a long way, and you can easily overdo it!)
- 1/2 cup water
1 Cook bacon lardons until lightly browned: Place the bacon lardons in a thick-bottomed pot (3 or 4 quart). Heat on medium and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and much of the fat has rendered out.
2 Add onions, celery, bell pepper, then garlic: Once bacon has browned, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. The bacon should have rendered enough fat to cook the vegetables, but if not, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.
Cook over medium high heat until onions, celery, and bell peppers are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
3 Add remaining ingredients, water, then simmer: Add the tomatoes, okra, and salt to the pot. Add the black pepper, cayenne, thyme, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to combine.
Add 1/2 cup of water.
Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Add more salt and pepper to taste.
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Okra smothered with onions, tomatoes and seasoning meat is a traditional favorite of Creole cooks. Sweet Daddy D’s Stewed Okra with Tomatoes and Ham clearly fits in the comfort food category and can be served as a main course or as a side dish. This simple recipe includes smoked meat for flavor, yellow onions for sweetness, young, tender okra and tomatoes all smothered or stewed in their own juices. It’s no mystery why this dish is such a South Louisiana favorite.
Sweet Daddy D's Stewed Okra with Ham and Tomatoes
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- 1 pound fresh okra
- 1/4 cup bacon drippings
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon water
Cook the okra in boiling water to cover in a saucepan 10 minutes or until tender drain, cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Cut the okra into ¼-inch-thick slices, discarding the stems.
Heat the bacon drippings in a saucepan over medium-high add the onion and bell pepper, and sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, lemon, and okra. Reduce heat to medium cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir together the flour and 1 tablespoon water until smooth add the okra mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 or 3 minutes or until thickened.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
I’ve been eating stewed okra and tomatoes since I can remember. Believe it or not, although its in season during the late summer months, my mother has always been able to get it during the holiday season! We enjoy it with smoked sausage and even shrimp sometimes!
Okra is one of those vegetables so many people turn their noses up to and continue to move away slowly. It’s always been in my life so as I got older and realized so many people hadn’t had it before or had bad experiences with okra. In fact, when I told my husband I’d be making okra he frowned, and I mean he frowned hard. I reassured him that his past experiences with okra wouldn’t be a factor tonight.
The main complaint I’ve heard when it comes to okra is that it has a sliminess they hate. Well rest assure there’s a simple way to avoid a slimy okra. I make sure to cook my okra at a low temperature for a longer period of time, this gives the okra time to cook down, eliminating the “slime” and leaving you with okra that hasn’t cooked down to nothing and still has a good texture.
So thats how it all begins! I cut the okra pods into 1/2in pieces and add to a pan with oil over medium heat. This is sautéed for anywhere between 20-40 minutes, you may need to add oil as you go. You’ll know the okra is ready when you pick up individual pieces on okra and there’s no slimy connecting it to others. The okra will have turned a darker green color and broken down some. Patience is key during this time as you have to stir continuously to distribute heat to the okra.
Once the okra is ready, add onions, continue to sauté until they’re are translucent then adding garlic and cooking another minute then add salt, paprika, pepper, onion and garlic powder.
Next add tomatoes and water, I’m using canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce but whenever I have tomatoes in the garden, those work as well or if you choose to use fresh diced, thats would be great!
Cook the tomatoes and okra down until your desired consistency is reached. I usually cook mine for 10 more minutes or so. Then add the sausage and cook for an additional 5 minutes just so the sausage can absorb some of the tomato and okra flavor.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy! My mom loves hers with rice but I usually eat mine on its own with chicken or Maque Choux, even macaroni and cheese!
Southern Okra & Tomatoes
The key to this dish is to keep it simple. It is simple ingredients with just the right seasonings cooked to perfection. By the way&hellip.don&rsquot cook it to death. I know it&rsquos &ldquostewed&rdquo but there&rsquos a limit to everything before turning it to mush.
Here&rsquos what you&rsquoll need: fresh okra, canned tomatoes and yes fresh are fine too, a Vidalia onion, bacon, some chicken or veggie stock and a few seasonings. Some folks like to add celery and bell pepper too. I didn&rsquot have any on hand and it&rsquos good without it too.
How to Make Classic Okra and Tomatoes with Bacon
Step 1: Cut bacon into pieces and saute until cooked through over medium heat. Remove the bacon pieces and reserve for later.
Step 2: Next, add the diced onion to the bacon fat rendered and sauté until tender. See those brown bits from cooking the bacon stuck on the bottom of the pan? Those are flavor bits! As the onion cooks and releases moisture, scrape those bits from the pan to incorporate into the dish.
Tomatoes and Okra Southern Style
Step 3: Next, add the canned tomatoes (or fresh diced if you have them) and the sliced okra to the skillet. Stir to mix everything together. If you&rsquore adding other diced vegetables such as bell pepper and celery, add those in now too. Add the stock and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Cook&rsquos Note: I used a large stainless pan to prepare this dish. A coated dutch oven or similar would also work great. I recommend that you not use cast iron. The acidity of the tomatoes is not a good match for your cast iron cookware.
Classic Country Cooking Okra and Tomatoes
Let&rsquos make Southern Stewed Okra & Tomatoes!
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
Okra is not well-known outside the southern states, which is understandable in that it's a hot-weather crop. Fried okra, of course, is immensely popular and has gained fame even in northern climes, but real okra lovers appreciate its flavor when it is stewed -- that is, cooked slowly with a little liquid. Okra can be stewed alone or with other vegetables, most notably tomatoes. Ideally, you should have small pods of fresh okra and big, juicy tomatoes for this recipe to be at its best.
- In a saucepan or sauté pan with a close-fitting lid, sauté the onion in the bacon drippings over medium heat until softened, not browned.
- Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the okra and tomatoes.
- Add the salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pepper.
Note: If using small pods of fresh okra, just trim the stem ends, leaving the pods whole. If the pods are larger (over 2 inches long), slice them in half.
People try to be kind to okra by describing its texture as "silky," a euphemism, to be sure. There's no getting around it: okra, especially stewed okra is slimey. There should be another word that does it justice, but I'm afraid the English language is lacking. But I refuse to defend okra. It's delicious -- so much so that I enjoy that slimey texture. There's an old one-liner about okra that goes like this: When I was a kid, I ate so much okra I couldn't keep my socks up.
Creole stewed Okra and Tomatoes are simple, but sooo delicious. Okra & Tomatoes are one of those romances written in the stars, like Oysters & Artichokes. Two creatures from different worlds, that were meant to be together!
To make this dish truly shine as it should, use the smallest okra and the most insanely ripe tomatoes you can find. You can make this dish vegetarian, if you’re into that sort of thing, or you can make it like I do, with some smoky pork flavor. I add a little homemade Tasso to mine, but some good quality ham or bacon would substitute nicely. Here is the recipe:
Creole Okra & Tomatoes Recipe
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, lard or bacon drippings
1/4 Cup Tasso, finely chopped
1 Cup Spanish Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Garlic, minced
4 Tbsp Hot peppers, minced
3 Cups Fresh Okra, washed trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
2 Cups Insanely ripe Tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 tsp Fresh Basil, chopped
2 tsp Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne, and Crystal Hot Sauce to taste
Melt the butter and saute the Tasso in a stainless steel pot until lightly browned. Add the onions, garlic and peppers, and season with a little Kosher salt. Sweat until the onions are translucent. Add the Okra, season again with a little salt, and cook until the Okra ceases to rope, which means that you don’t see threads when you stir the pot.
Add the Tomatoes and Thyme, plus a little more Kosher salt to make the tomatoes break down.
When the tomatoes break down and reduce slightly add the basil, Green Onions, and salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve as a side or over rice.
Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes, which links every recipe featured on this site!
How to Cook Okra and Tomatoes
- Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook for a few minutes until the bacon is crisp.
- Remove the bacon from the pan drain excess. I usually reserve a teaspoon of grease in the pan.
- Add onions to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
- Add the okra, tomatoes, Creole Seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan.
- Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
- Top with the cooked bacon.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style - Recipes
Celebrating Southern Cooking in Every Season!
Since I still had plenty of okra leftover from the last blog post, I decided to make my Mother's Creole Okra.
Her recipe starts off with bacon, how yummy can you get. Then it comes together with the flavors of onion and tomato with her continuing to layer on flavors depending on what she had on hand.
This recipe I added onion, bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, and minced garlic.
This delicious dish often made the center stage on our dinner table growing up serving it with rice or cornbread.
My favorite is cornbread because you will not be able to stop yourself from sopping up all those wonderful juices lingering on your plate.
Creole Stewed Okra & Tomatoes
Heat some oil in a skillet, add onion, bell pepper and garlic, cook until onion is thoroughly wilted and transparent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, black pepper, cayenne, sugar, parsley and potatoes. Stir until combined, cook until potatoes are fork tender. Add okra and stir until combined. Cover and cook until okra is tender about 20 minutes, stirring often. Serve hot. Serves 4.
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