Middle Eastern Okra – Easy, Healthy and Delicious Recipe for Bamya with Tomato, Onion and Spices by Tori Avey.
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Readers frequently ask me, “How do you stay skinny when you’re testing recipes all day long?” Enjoying treats in moderation is key; most of the time I stick to a flexitarian, Mediterranean-style diet. I also have a secret weapon, a recipe that we make on the regular here at home. Bamya, or okra cooked Middle Eastern-style, is one of our very favorite things to eat. Instead of a full dinner every night, we often replace 1-2 meals per week with a pot of simmering, spicy bamya. This wonder vegetable is low calorie and high in fiber. It leaves us feeling full and satisfied without packing on the pounds. I’m excited to share our family recipe with you today!
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Okra is one of those foods that people tend to love or loathe. Those who dislike it bemoan its “slimy” texture. This naturally-occurring film, known as mucilage, is similar to the goop you’ll find in aloe vera plants. In this recipe, the mucilage is actually beneficial to the dish. When okra is slowly simmered with acidic tomato paste, the mucilage thickens the sauce. The okra loses its slimy texture and becomes something altogether different- tender with a terrific texture. I’ve had many friends say they dislike okra, only to be converted by this very recipe. Good thing, too- okra has lots of health benefits, including a healthy dose of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and folate. This stuff is good AND good for you!
Warning— as written, this recipe has quite a kick to it. We love our okra spicy… it is Middle Eastern-style, after all. I’ve written “to taste” on the red pepper flakes and cayenne, which provide most of the heat here. If you’re spice sensitive, add with care. If you love spice like we do, go all out… it’s a flavor bomb!
To learn more about okra, check out this terrific post by History Kitchen contributor Michael W. Twitty – The Secret History of Okra. It also includes a Southern recipe for okra tomato soup!
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