South Florida Gardening

okra stew

Summertime in Miami, if you’re an avid gardener, means dusting off the variety of okra recipes collected over the years and making some choices. This okra stew recipe has always been my go-to favorite, my “okra comfort food,” if you will. It is simple to make, delicious, and slime-free.

While gardeners have great success growing okra here in South Florida, it does yield a slow-giving harvest. In other words, we pick a few pieces each day and save it up until there’s enough to cook (they generally keep up to two weeks in the fridge). See my post Oh, Okra! for more harvesting info.

So, a word or two about okra’s slime:

  • Okra contains mucilage, the same substance that aloe has. This thickens when the okra is heated, producing a slimy outcome. Okra is actually used as a thickener because of its slimy texture, such as in gumbo dishes.
  • Cutting okra so you barely remove the stem (without piercing the main part) and leaving the tip on will prevent slime from entering the dish. Also if you’re slicing the okra into rounds, wait and cut it until just before using.
  • Adding acid to okra reduces the slime – hence the popularity of cooking it with tomatoes. Lemon squeezed over okra cooked at high heat is another method
  • Cooking okra “dry” over high heat is also effective. This prevents the okra steaming in its own vapor, which adds to the slime. You can find a variety of recipes in Indian cooking using this approach.

My okra stew recipe below is really simple and straightforward. I love adding the fresh corn (when available) near the end for its sweetness and a bit of crunch in contrast to the softness of the rest of the dish. Of course, you can make it any level of heat you wish from mild to hot. Hope you enjoy it!

Stewed Okra & Tomatoes
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr

Author: DK
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil or bacon fat or lard
  • 1 large white or yellow onion large dice
  • 2 cloves garlic mashed
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes preferably San Marzano
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme whole sprigs, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 lb fresh okra Wash, dry & keep whole until just before cooking
  • 1-2 hot peppers or dash cayenne
  • salt to taste
  • 2 ears fresh corn or frozen Optional
  1. Saute the onion in oil (or fat) over medium-low heat until soft. Add the garlic and stir for one minute.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes and their juices, breaking them up with your hands. Add the chicken stock, thyme, salt and hot pepper (to your taste). You can throw in the whole thyme sprigs and retrieve them when the stew is done. Bring the mixture to a boil, then allow the tomatoes to simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes to consolidate the flavors.

  3. Barely cut the stem ends off the whole okra pods, then slice the okra into 3/4 inch rounds - no need to cut the pointed tips off. Add the okra to the stewed tomatoes and cook on simmer until tender (15 minutes or so). Adjust the amount of liquid by adding chicken stock if needed.

  4. Shave the corn from the cob (if fresh), and add it for about the last 5 minutes of cooking.

  5. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Writing & Photo by DK