4 c. okra (or zucchini or a mixture)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, chopped 1 inch dice
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded,chopped 1 inch dice
4 c. peeled, seeded tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp. flour
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 1/2 c. buttered bread crumbs (2 c. breadcrumbs
+ 2-3 Tbsp. butter)
Wash & cut okra (or zucchini) in 1-1/2Ē pieces and cook until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Check tenderness with tip of paring knife. Drain, chill in ice water, drain and hold. (Skip this step if youíre serving it right away.) Itís important to the flavor not to overcook this. (It can be done in the microwave with no water.) You want around 3 cups of cooked okra or zucchini.
Add butter and oil to hot skillet. When butter is hot, add and sautť until barely tender: onion, celery, green pepper (lid off, stir gently).
Add 4 c. peeled, seeded tomatoes, in chunks, with a little of the juice. Romas are best. I have used fresh tomatoes, peeled, which takes some time, or canned Progresso© Roma tomatoes, juice included. (Iím not as ambitious as Mom. I open two 14 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes and dump them in, juice and all. Break up the tomato chunks with a wooden spoon while they are cooking. Donít be afraid to add more tomatoes if itís not looking moist enough.)
When tomatoes are hot, add salt and pepper to taste and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar. Fold this in very gently. Then sprinkle 2 - 3 Tbsp. flour on top and fold in very gently. Simmer for one minute.
Eat it right away at this point or place in an ungreased casserole, top with breadcrumbs, and bake uncovered at 350ļ just until it bubbles (20-40 minutes).
EASY FOOD PROCESSOR BREAD CRUMBS: Place bread in work bowl of food processor and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over the bread. Pulse until you have desired texture. The crumbs get evenly coated with oil so they brown really nicely. You can even mix in a little Parmesan with crumbs, if you like.
I added a couple of cloves of garlic towards the end of the cooking time even though my mom doesnít do this.
The original recipe came from the inimitable Miss Louise Evans, bee keeper par excellence, from Eagle Lane, off Corydon Pike in New Albany, IN. My mother modified it and it became my fatherís favorite okra dish. I prefer it with just zucchini.
Note from Molly Bundy: Vernon loved okra. He remembered coming home from school to a big kettle of okra and tomatoes. Once when I was visiting my mother in West Virginia he called me to get detailed directions about how to make Okra Creole, which he then proceeded to make. After I got home, he said "That's a lot of trouble!"