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.

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