Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style

There’s a reason why the Southern dish of stewed okra and tomatoes is timeless. It’s just plain good. First you start with browning some bacon, then you add the holy trinity—onions, bell pepper, and celery, then the tomatoes, okra and spices. Everything is cooked together until tender and almost falling apart.

Okra is a summer vegetable so we are seeing it in the farmer’s market right now. But you can get frozen okra all year round which is perfectly fine stewed like this. If you don’t have access to okra at all, you can prepare green beans in a similar manner (see recipe).

Do you have a favorite summer okra dish? Please let us know about it in the comments. I love okra and am always looking for ways to cook with it.

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Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

You can use either whole or thickly sliced okra for this recipe.

Obviously we believe this dish is best with bacon, but if you don't eat bacon or want to make a vegetarian dish, leave it out and use a tablespoon or two of olive oil instead.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch wide slices (lardons)
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper (about 1 bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about one rib)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 pound (16-ounces) of frozen or fresh okra, whole or thickly sliced, trimmed of tough tops if whole, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch of cayenne
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 scant pinch of ground cloves (watch it on the ground cloves, a little goes a long way, and you can easily overdo it!)
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

1 Place the bacon lardons in a thick-bottomed pot (3 or 4 quart). Heat on medium and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and much of the fat has rendered out.

2 Once bacon has browned, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. The bacon should have rendered enough fat to cook the vegetables, but if not, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Cook over medium high heat until onions, celery, and bell peppers are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

3 Add the tomatoes, okra, and salt to the pot. Add the black pepper, cayenne, thyme, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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Links:

Greek stewed okra and tomatoes from Choosy Beggars

Okra cornmeal cakes with chèvre and roasted tomatoes from Annie's Eats

Smothered Okra (no tomatoes) from Real Cajun Cooking

Persian Okra Stew from My Persian Kitchen

Tangy Tomato Okra Soup from Cafe Liz

Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

14 Comments

  1. Krystal

    Grilled. Tried it for the first time this summer, and it is awesome. Just skewer, brush with oil, and sprinkle with some sea salt. Cook over high heat until the pods start to blister.

    Dipping sauce or brushing with a dressing in the last minute of cooking optional.

  2. Jen

    I LOVE okra and I make a variation of this that I grew up with. We called it goulash (no idea why). Basically, you take lots of fresh veggies: lots of corn (at least 6; strip the kernels), onion, tomatoes, and okra, and you cook it down. For the smokey, porky flavor, I use a ham hock. As much as I love bacon, I don’t like the texture of it in this. To start, I might use a bit of bacon grease and I add the chopped onion (let it soften a bit), then I add the tomatoes, the corn, the ham hock and a bit of stock. I let this simmer for awhile (maybe half an hour?), then I add the okra and simmer it for another half hour or so. I season it with salt, a generous amount of black pepper, and some cayenne. Reminds me of my grandma and tastes like summer!

  3. Jen

    Also, I don’t leave the okra whole, I slice it into little “o”s.

  4. Jeremy

    We put lots of bacon and Pork Sausage or Andoullie here south Louisiana and we make it a meal. We even eat it on bread for lunch the next day.

  5. Lorelly

    Are there any advantages or disadvantages to keep the okras as a whole rather than slicing it cubes? I’ll be trying this recipe today and it is the first time I’ll try okra. Thanks!

    • Elise

      Okra have a tendency to be slimy when cooked. If you keep them whole, that doesn’t happen as much. That said, if the texture of okra doesn’t bother you (I love it), then it really doesn’t matter if you cut them or keep them whole.

      • Lorelly

        Thanks Elise!
        Your reply came in perfect time! I am about to start preparing it! My family is a little anxious about the slimy texture, so I’ll keep them whole, as depicted in the picture. Thanks so much!!!

  6. Espahan

    Oh my, I need to run out and buy some okra. Living in the NW we don’t get much okra in the stores. It is mainly frozen. Hopefully it will work out as well as the fresh.

    I don’t seem to be getting your e-mail notifications anymore. It is a good thing I see you on Facebook. I really do count your site as my all time favorite.

  7. Marlene

    I’ve been dying to make this……. Finally found fresh Okra in Hong Kong..Great recipe although I will add just a touch of chopped hot chillies next time …and it took at least 45 minutes to ‘be stewed’ with my soldiers..I was getting desperate and mixed and turned it over way to much and it ultimately fell apart….BUT it tasted great!..You know I have been following Simply Recipes since I lived in Davis Ca…..Curious…… how long have you been posting Simply Recipes….such a great site…..thanks!

    • Elise

      Hi Marlene, so glad it ultimately worked for you! Thank you for your kind words about Simply Recipes. I started blogging with Simply Recipes in 2003.

  8. The Steaming Pot

    It’s fantastic to learn of the variety of ways in which a vegetable is cooked around the world. Okra is a pretty popular vegetable in India, and it’s available fresh – haven’t heard of frozen okra over here. I often make it into a dish called “bhindi do pyaza” (literally, okra with two onions).

  9. Reir

    I love okra. This sounds delicious and I will have to try it soon!

    My favorite go-to recipes are African or Middle Eastern chick pea and okra stew. They are quite similar, with slight variations.
    I also like okra sautéed in Indian style, with onions and a pinch of asafoetida.

  10. Strawberry

    Hi, I found this site by coincidence,I cook and create some meals.
    About Okra we used to cook it in different way but so delicious.
    the way to keep it always at home either frozen or dry in necklace (always guests wonder what is this necklace doing in the kitchen where I hang it !

    The way to prepare the dry okra for cooking is:
    Boil water in a pot with lemon or orange peels and dash of flour ,then add the dry okra till tenderness and cook it as broth as follows:
    Ingrediants:
    Okra- 500g
    Tomato- paste fullspoon
    Tomato juice-3cups
    Garlic-2 or 3 cloves
    Cubes of cooked Lamb or beef- 5 or 6 pieces ,with Lamb more tasty ( fry onion in oil,then add the meat with herbs as cardamon,cinnamon,bay leaves and cloves) then add boiled water till tenderness.
    Coriander seeds- grinded-teaspoon

    Method:
    Put cooking oil in a pot and add tomato paste ,then add the cubes of beef
    Add coriander
    Add Okra till color change into yellow
    Add tomato juice with garlic cloves
    Let it boil for awhile till you test an okra by pressing a fork into an okra so if it’s tender you can reduce the heat till done.
    You can have it with rice or put bread* pieces( even old) into the broth. onion and fresh basil suit the meal.
    * Afghani or Pakistani bread preffered

    Bon Appetit

  11. Strawberry

    Sorry,forgot to tell you add citrus or lemon juice to broth …

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