Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Okra and Eggplant Salad

The okra salad I had at Ottolenghi really inspired me so I decided to recreate it today. Okra is one of those things that falls into two camps- love it or hate it. Some people find its slime-like properties too off putting while others, like myself, love that it's simultaneously soft and crunchy. Its outer-skin succumbs to the heat and creates a silky smooth parcel, giving way to a plethora of seeds which add crunch and a much welcome texture.

Similar to okra, eggplant also softens a tremendous amount when cooked and is more of a flavour vehicle rather than a flavourful ingredient. That's why they both pair so well with a heavy sauce, both the okra and eggplant carry the thick tomato sauce, feta and bell peppers so well.

I wanted to make this more substantial so I added some cooked bulgur wheat to the mix. It added depth and another dimension of texture which complemented the dish very much!

1/2 pound okra, tops trimmed
1 small Italian eggplant cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
5 roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 oz feta cheese
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for finishing)
1/2 cup bulgur wheat

Preheat oven to 425.

In a saucepan, saute onions and coriander seeds in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and bell peppers and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes until they release their liquids and make a sauce. Add 1/4 cup water and tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium high and let it thicken. Add a good pinch of salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Simmer the heat on low and add a little water if it thickens too much.

In the meantime, place the okra and eggplant in a lined baking tray. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well and add in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes or until soft. Broil on high until they get more colour and the eggplant chars on its sides.

Place 1/2 cup bulgur wheat in 3/4 cup boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes until soft. Drain excess water and reserve.

Mix all the ingredients together. Top with feta,  fresh mint, parsley and a good drizzle of top quality extra virgin!


  1. When I read the titel I was so sure it would be an Indian recipe! Surprise!
    I love Okra!

  2. Isn't it usually the case that we associate okra with Indian food?! That's true too as i was expecting that when I ordered the dish last week...I hope you try it..and like it! :)