Although I eat a wide variety of vegetables, there are some I simply don’t think about – okra, for example. I think it doesn’t show up on my radar because we didn’t grow it at the farm where I worked and because my primary exposure to it (until recently) was in undergrad where I ate a fried and reheated cafeteria version. On a trip home to Virginia my mother-in-law prepared okra from her garden by ever-so-simply boiling it. She sautéed it with corn and other bits of things…I can’t quite remember what, but I remember the okra! Without the breading I could really taste this vegetable, and while I can’t quite describe the flavor I can tell you it was delicious, tender-crisp, and in no need of adornment.
This recipe is my version of that dish. I added some green bell pepper I had lying around in the fridge, chickpeas to give it staying power, and jalapeno and cilantro for a nice kick. Okra is in full swing in New York; make sure to purchase small (about 4 inches) for superior texture and flavor.
1 ½ lbs okra
1 small red onion, chopped
2 c cooked chickpeas
Kernels from 4 ears of corn
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
Large handful cilantro, roughly chopped
½ lime, juiced
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with water and adding two large handfuls of ice. Boil the okra for about 5 minutes, strain, and then plunge in the ice bath. Once completely cooled, chop the okra into bite-sized pieces. This step can be one day ahead.
2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil or butter and sauté the red onion until translucent. Add the chickpeas, corn, bell pepper, and a generous pinch of two of salt and sauté for another minute or two. Add the ginger and jalapeno and cook for another minute.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Serve as a side, or this makes a delicious breakfast with a fried egg or two on top.
Wine Pairing: This Peppery Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, especially refreshing during the summer months, perfectly highlights the bright notes in the succotash.