Since I'm about as northern as they come (I've spent my whole life in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota), I never knew how much I like fresh okra. But oh do I like it, it's become one of my very favorite vegetables, especially in this simple, pretty saute. There's nothing slimy about this dish - the fresh okra emerges tender-crisp and sweet. Combined with warm tomatoes and sweet onion, all set off perfectly with a little bacon, I could eat a whole panful and call it dinner.
But that would a shame, since grilled pork or shrimp love snuggling up to this dish. As does - as you can see above - a bowl of soft, creamy polenta. This was my lunch today, yep. Couldn't beat it with a wooden spoon.
Saute of Tomatoes and Okra with Bacon
Adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Louis & Scott Peacock
Author’s note: this simple summer sauté is full of flavor, and color. The okra should be just tender and bright green, the onion cooked but still a bit crunchy, and the tomatoes just warmed through, with a very fresh taste. This is a nice way to use the different heirloom tomatoes from your own garden or varieties that you can find at a farmers’ markets, but any ripe, juicy garden tomato would be delicious.
5 slices bacon, diced
4 c. okra, washed, trimmed, and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 1 lb.; I found fresh okra at the farmer's market this past weekend)
1 large onion, cut into 1/3-inch wedges
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
4 medium heirloom or garden tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (about 2 1/2 cups)
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Add the sliced okra to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Add the onion wedges, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking, still stirring, for 5 minutes. Toss in the tomato wedges, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, partially covered, just until tomatoes are heated through, 3-4 minutes. Carefully taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed. Serve warm.