Southern Stewed Okra with Tomatoes is a classic summertime side dish to make. This recipe works well using frozen okra so you can enjoy it year-round.
Easy Stewed Okra with Tomatoes Recipe
Okra is a classic Southern side dish that you'll often find dredged in cornmeal and turned into fried okra. It's also added to gumbo, can be turned into okra cornbread and hush puppies or used as an ingredient in succotash. I love it in any way shape or form. It comes packed with a natural thickener that can make it have a slightly slimy mouth feel. This is the result of something called mucilage which breaks down during the cooking process and provides a natural thickener for dishes like gumbo. I find it's not a huge issue in this stewed okra recipe and in fact, it does the job of adding a full bodied texture to the stewed tomato sauce.
How to Make the Best Stewed Okra with Tomatoes Recipe
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade Stewed Okra with Tomatoes: 4-5 cups sliced fresh okra, (or the equivalent of frozen okra) diced onion, minced garlic, canned crushed tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes, bay leaves, diced canned green chiles, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, seasoned salt, black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, dried thyme or oregano and bacon.
- Kitchen gadgets you'll need: A large 12 inch skillet, measuring cups and spoons, a sharp knife and cutting board and a large spoon for stirring.
- When choosing fresh okra, look for bright green color with little to no blemishes. Also the stem should look fresh and the okra pod should have a bit of give when gently bent. If okra is old, it will be tough.
- I use canned diced green chiles in this stewed okra recipe. You can use mild or spicy to suit your taste. You can also omit them altogether, if desired.
- Fresh or frozen okra can be used in this recipe. When using frozen okra, there's no need to thaw it prior.
- You can serve stewed okra over cooked rice or with cornbread or cornbread muffins to soak up all of that glorious tomato sauce.
- You can add corn to this recipe to make it more like succotash. You can also add chorizo sausage or even shrimp to the mix.
- You can add Cajun or Creole seasoning to this recipe. When doing so, consider the amount of sodium in the brand used and adjust the seasoned salt amount to accommodate.
- The technique used in this recipe allows the tomato sauce to develop in flavor prior to adding the okra. It works beautifully and allows the okra to maintain some of its texture without cooking down too much.
- Store leftover Stewed Okra with Tomatoes chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave in single servings.
More Southern Style Dishes to Serve with Okra
Okra is a side dish that's suitable for most any entree. A little main dish inspiration you may like to make:
- Pinto Bean Cakes turns leftovers into a round 2 meal.
- Serve stewed okra spooned over Cheddar Chive Spoon Bread with some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden.
- Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil made in the oven.
- Pulled Pork Barbecue piled onto toasted kaiser rolls.
- Delicious Southern Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
- Finger licking good Buttermilk Fried Chicken and macaroni and cheese.
- Grilled Pork Chops from the Pioneer Woman.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Stewed Okra with Tomatoes
- 4-5 cups sliced fresh okra (½ inch thick) OR frozen okra
- 4 slices bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 4 oz can diced green chiles (mild or hot)
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper OR crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme OR oregano
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- Slice okra and set aside.
- In a large 12 inch skillet cook bacon until crisp over medium-high heat. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserve drippings in skillet.
- To the drippings add onion. Cook over medium high for 3 minutes or just until softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute longer.
- To the onions add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, vinegar, green chiles, bay leaves, seasoned salt, black pepper (or pepper flakes) and thyme. (or oregano.) Mix well, then bring to a gentle boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes add chicken stock and okra. Cover with lid slightly offset, and cook over medium-high for an additional 15 minutes or until the okra is tender, stirring occasionally.
- Serve immediately topped with cooked bacon.
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