Caramelized Okra With Fresh Tomato Ragu Recipe

Tomato and okra is a favorite pairing: try this foodie variation on the classic.
Okra and Tomato Ragu

Okra and Tomato Ragu

A classic pairing on the Southern table, okra and tomato are given a novel twist at Atlanta's Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe at Parish where the okra is caramelized and topped with sesame seeds.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Julia Fenner

Image courtesy of Julia Fenner

A classic pairing on the Southern table, okra and tomato are given a novel twist by executive chef Stuart Tracy at Atlanta's Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe at Parish where the okra is caramelized and topped with sesame seeds.

Caramelized Okra with Fresh Tomato Ragu

Yield: 4 Servings (as a side)

  • ¼ cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 pound green okra, tops removed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups Fresh Tomato Sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds (toasted)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add okra and salt. Shake the pan gently, to settle the contents. Do not stir again for 2-3 minutes, or until the okra begins to brown on the bottom. Stir quickly, and allow to continue browning. Repeat until the majority of the okra is browned.

Add tomato sauce, and quickly stir to coat. Check seasoning, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve right away.

*Fresh Tomato Sauce

Yield: 1 quart

  • 12 large ripe plum tomatoes
  • 3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, remove the core of each plum tomatoes with a sharp paring knife, and make two shallow cuts in the shape of an “X” at the bottom of each tomato as well.

Fill a large container (large enough to hold all the tomatoes with room to spare) half way with ice. Add just enough water to the container to make the ice float.

Set up the ice bath next to the pot of boiling water. Working in batches of 3-4 tomatoes, drop in the boiling water for 3-5 seconds. Remove, and plunge into the ice bath immediately to stop the cooking. Allow the water to return to a boil, and repeat the process for the rest of the tomatoes. 

Peel the skin off of the tomatoes, cut in half, and squeeze out the seeds and any liquid from the interior of the tomato. Chop the now seedless tomatoes into 2” chunks, and reserve.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and bay leaf. Stir often until the vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown. Add chopped tomato and salt, and stir to distribute.

Allow to come to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Gently mash the tomato pulp with the back of a large spoon, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until the thickness you desire is achieved. For use in the Caramelized Okra recipe, Tracy likes to use a slightly looser sauce, since it is added to a hot pan, and the extra liquid will evaporate.

Adjust seasoning if necessary, cool, and save until ready to use.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

How to Plant Bare-Root Vegetables

Discover the best way to plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries in your garden.

Freezing Vegetables

Sun-ripened flavors are one of gardening's simple joys. Learn how to freeze fresh vegetables to enjoy the goodness all year long.

How to Freeze Okra

Okra is a Southern favorite, thanks to its heat-loving disposition. Stock up on okra in season and freeze it for later use.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Make room on your fire escape or pot up some tomato plants—you can grow delicious fruits and veggies even if you don't have much space.

Homemade Tomato Jam

You say tomato, I say jam!

How to Make Homemade Tomato Juice

Make tomato juice at home without separation anxiety.

Homemade Apple Jelly Recipe

Apples don’t require added pectin to produce thick, sweet jelly.