Food from Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Bamies (Baked Okra)
Okra is enjoyed in Greece when in season. It is often stewed on the stove but here is baked, which I really like. Also called ladies fingers, it is rather a particular vegetable, containing a glutinous substance that thickens dishes. It is great served with a dish of feta and some bread and perhaps a green salad. Try and get small okra, about 1½ inches in length, so there is less chance of tough or stringy ones. This dish is sometimes also baked with chicken pieces in it.
Serves about 8
• 1 pound 5 ounces small okra
• 1/3 cup wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon coarse salt
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• 2 small green sweet peppers [about 2¼ ounces each). halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
• freshly ground black pepper
Rinse and drain the okra. Trim the top of their hard stems in a circular conical way so that the top isn't pierced and no seeds can leak out. Put them into a bowl of cold water with the vinegar and salt and leave for an hour or so. Drain into a colander and rinse well.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and sticky. Add the peppers toward the end, sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic. When you can smell it frying, add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 5 minutes, smoothing any tomato lumps with a wooden spoon. Stir in 2 cups of water and the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Add the okra, gently turning them to coat well.
Transfer to an 8½ x 12-inch baking dish or pan and bake uncovered for about 50 minutes. Gently turn the okra over and continue baking until the okra are roasted looking and the sauce is thick and dark and no longer watery, about 30 minutes. If it seems like the okra are getting too dark too quickly, turn the oven down slightly. Taste one to see if it is lovely and soft. Cool a little before serving to allow the okra to absorb the juices.