Cooked at Ithomi Restaurant (overlooking Ancient Messine). Stavroula, the cook and mother of the owner of this restaurant, deep-fries her okra first and explained that this stops the okra going mucilaginous as it usually does when cooked. I’ve tried it and it really does work!
Serves 8 as a side dish
Preparation time 20-30 minutes
Cooking time 20-30 minutes
1 kg fresh young okra
Extra virgin olive oil for deep-frying
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
2 large red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, chopped (see note)
1 teaspoon each of sea salt flakes and salt, to season
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- To make tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft, but not brown. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 10–15 minutes or until it thickens slightly.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Heat enough additional extra olive oil in a medium sized deep saucepan to deep fry okra. Heat the oil to hot.
- Wash okra and remove stalk or top ends, drain on kitchen paper to dry. Deep-fry okra, in batches until colour heightens, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Place half the tomato sauce in a large baking dish. Cover with okra and then spoon remaining tomato sauce over the okra, spreading it over the top. Bake uncovered for 20–30 minutes, or until thoroughly hot. A longer cooking time reduces and intensifies the tomato sauce.
Lyndey’s Note: 2 cups (500ml) tinned tomatoes or tomato puree can be substituted for the fresh tomato sauce.