Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Some plants wilt in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer, unable to bear up under the blistering sun and suffocating humidity. Others, like okra, don’t just thrive, but seem to revel in the weather, growing ever taller as the thermometer spikes. Okra, an important member of the canon of Southern foods, can be fried, stewed, sautéed, and roasted. One of the more traditional ways to cook okra is to partner it with onions and fresh tomatoes. This easy and delicious recipe for Okra and Chickpeas in Fresh Tomato Sauce, developed by chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis, is ready for the table in just thirty minutes. Light enough for a main dish on a summer evening, you can also serve it with fish or grilled chicken. For the best results, choose fresh okra pods no longer than 4 inches in length. Depending on the variety, if the pods are much longer they are going to be tough, woody, and dry. The tangy harissa (or Sriracha chili sauce) adds great dimension to the fresh tomato sauce.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
5 garden-ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon harissa (or Sriracha chili sauce)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice (from 1 lemon)
1 pound fresh okra, stems trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add yellow onion, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add tomatoes, cumin, harissa, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and cook, stirring once or twice, until tomatoes start to break down, about 5 minutes.
Add okra, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cover skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until okra is just tender, about 10 minutes.
Add chickpeas, and stir to combine. Cover and cook just until chickpeas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.