Friday, 30 May 2014

Braised Okra (Bamies) - Greek-style in Tomato Sauce (with Thermomix method)

If you like okra (aka ladies' fingers, bhindi, bamia etc.), you'll love this easy and delicious Greek dish, with its comforting rich tomato sauce...

Good hot as an accompaniment, or even as a main dish (if you're a real okra-freak - you could crumble a little feta over the top for some protein if you're having it as a meal), and also at room temperature - it would be a nice part of some mezze dishes to pick at - it's certainly very more-ish. I never used to like okra, but this is now one of my favourite ways to have it.


Serves six people as a generous side dish. 130 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets if you're counting - for a more filling meal, you'd probably want double this]

We sometimes enjoy this as a side dish to my Lamb Kleftiko (slow roasted lamb, marinated in lemon, garlic, herbs and olive oil - click here for recipe - around 300 calories a serving) with lemony roast potatoes.

500g fresh okra (make sure they are a pleasant, fresh green colour, not yellowing or with dark patches, and nice and firm) [195]
2 tbsp red wine vinegar [7]
1 onion (around 100g) [41]
1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil [135]
1 large and juicy vine-ripened tomato (or a couple of smaller ones - around 150g in total) [130]

For the tomato sauce
500g tomatoes (fresh and peeled, or tinned - made with tinned in the photo, which gives you a nice rich sauce if you can't get hold of flavoursome fresh tomatoes) [125]
Large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves (you could use a tbsp dried, if you can't get hold of fresh) - reserve a few for garnishing, if you like [3]
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (15ml/g) [135]
1/2 tsp sugar [8]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]

For quick preparation, give the okra a wash, then line them up in handfuls, and trim the little black-ish, thin bottom tips off all together. Trim off the tops of the stalks too - or if you have time on your hands, and want your dish to be wholly edible, cut the very top of the pod off carefully, in a circular, diagonal motion just shaving the very top off (leaving you with a pointed top), being careful not to pierce the actual pod (i.e. don't just cut it off straight). It's quicker to just trim the tips of the stalk tops, and warn those eating them not to eat the stalks, if you're amongst friends!

Put the prepared okra into a non-metallic bowl with the red wine vinegar and a tbsp water, and toss thoroughly. Leave for an hour, tossing a couple of times again.

While you're waiting for the okra, coarsely grate the onion (Thermomix drop onto running blades, speed 8) and then set aside.

Put all of the ingredients for the tomato sauce (I use about 1/2 tsp salt) into a food processor or blender (or jug with a stick blender), and blitz until the tomatoes are pureed and the parsley is chopped (Thermomix - after removing the onions, speed 8, 20 seconds, scrape down, then if necessaryanother 10-20 seconds).

Remove the core from the tomato (not essential), turn onto its side and cut into slices.

After the allotted hour, rinse the okra in cold water, then drain. Heat a large, non-stick pan (with a lid available) over a low to medium heat, add the olive oil, and gently fry the onion for 4 or 5 minutes until softened.

Add the okra, and continue to cook for another 3 or 4 minutes - preferably tossing rather than stirring, if you can - then add the tomato sauce to the pan, and toss this together with the okra and onions, until the okra is evenly coated.

Place the fresh tomato slices over the top, season with a small pinch of
salt and freshly ground pepper, bring to a gentle simmer, put the lid on, turn down the heat to low and cook for 15-25 minutes (depending on the size of the okra), or until the okra is just tender. Don't stir at any point, but you can shake the pan to prevent anything sticking (unlikely) and if it looks like it is getting dry, add a little water. Make sure you don't overcook the okra, or it will start to fall apart.

Serve hot, or at room temperature, sprinkled with a little fresh parsley if you like,or break with convention and crumble a little feta over it!

Bamies (braised okra) with lamb Kleftiko and lemony roast potatoes (see Kleftiko recipe for method for potatoes).

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