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Caribbean Food Made Easy
by Levi Roots

This is good with fried chicken or a slice of ham, or as a light supper or lunch with a tomato salad. Okra, also known as ladies' fingers, is a taste you grow into. I've never known a child who likes them, because of their slimy texture, and I've never known an adult who doesn't! The trick is to pile up the cheese; when it melts it is nice and crisp on top. You could also vary the recipe by using another cheese, such as Red Leicester or Gruyere.
Serves 4 as a starter or side dish


• 32 medium okra (about 200g/7oz)
• 200g (7oz) green beans, topped
• 15g (1/2 oz) butter
• 2 tbsp water
• 2 tbsp cider vinegar
• salt and pepper
• 100g (3½ oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
• 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Trim the ends from the okra.

2. Put a pan of salted water on to boil. When boiling, plunge in the beans for 3 minutes, then drain.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the okra. Stir around for a couple of minutes over a medium heat then add the water and cider vinegar. Cover with a lid and let them steam over a low heat, stirring once or twice, for 2 minutes, then season.

4. Layer up the okra and beans in 4 individual heatproof dishes, starting with a layer of half the okra (4 in a dish), followed by half the beans, set on top at right angles to the okra. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients so you have 4 layers in all.

5. Sprinkle over the cheese, finish with a grinding of pepper and put in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melting and bubbly. Serve immediately, sprinkled with coriander leaves, if liked.


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