Okra in a Tomato Cream Sauce

We had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago.  I spent all day making a delicious dinner and amazing dessert.  Really top quality food.  Then about 10 minutes before the doorbell rang, I realized that I hadn’t prepared any sort of side dish to go with the main entree.  Desperately flinging open the fridge, I saw almost nothing – we had just returned from a long trip and had emptied the fridge before we left.  Seriously, you could roller skate in there, it’s so empty.  I did see half a can of tomato paste, half a carton of cream (left over from the dessert prep) and a bag of okra from the box.  I hadn’t figured out what to do with the okra yet.  “Awww, hell.”  I thought.  I grabbed these meager items and figured I could make something out of them.

Okra and tomatoes have always played well together.  And this impromptu dish certain keeps that tradition alive.  This dish comes together in about 15 minutes and is absolutely delicious.  How delicious?  I’ve made it twice now, and both times we have had to fight the toddler for some.  She gobbles it down, gleefully declaring “I like o-pra.”  I assume that means “okra” but maybe she’s just really into Oprah reruns.  Who knows?

1 lb okra pods

1-2 T olive oil

1/2 c heavy cream

2 T tomato paste

salt and pepper

Slice the okra pods in half at a steep angle so each piece is approximately 1″.  If they are especially large, you may have to slice them into a few pieces.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Saute the okra, stirring occasionally, until it is tender and browned, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the cream and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens, 1-2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  If basil happens to be in season, a few torn leaves would round out the dish beautifully.

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