Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Stewed okra and tomatoes
Stewed okra and tomatoes

     The other day I was walking through my local Sprouts and I spotted some beautiful okra sitting in a large barrel. For those that don’t have one in their area, Sprouts touts themselves as:

“Sprouts is a neighborhood grocery store with the feel of an old-fashioned farmers market. Our bright, friendly stores are filled with everyday staples and specialty items at a great value. You’ll find mountains of fresh fruits and vegetables, barrels of wholesome grains, nuts and sweets, full-service deli, meat and seafood counters—complete with homemade burgers and sausages. Roam around our spacious aisles and you’ll find fresh baked goods, eclectic beer and wine, gourmet cheese, sensibly-priced vitamins and supplements, and thousands of natural, organic and gluten-free groceries.”

It’s a great place to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef and exotic meats such as bison, elk and others. And if you are into it, they have all kinds of health nut things. Vitamins and organic this and that and gluten free everything. Great stuff if you are into it, but I mainly go to get fresh fruits and veggies.

     Like I was saying, I spotted some beautiful okra and I grabbed it thinking only of making fried okra. Then I got to thinking that fried was probably not the healthiest choice I could make and instead decided stewed okra and tomatoes would be much healthier and I’m glad I did. I knew that Mrs. G liked it. What I didn’t know was that it is one of her favorite dishes. Score some extra bonus points for me. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh okra, stems and tips removed and sliced (frozen is ok if that is all you can find)
  • 2 slices of thick bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used red as Sprouts did not have green and I don’t like green anyway)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes with juices (basil, garlic and oregano preferably)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional 1 tsp of sugar (to cut the acidity if desired)
After simmering for awhile
After simmering for a while

Directions

  1. In a large saute pan, cook the two slices of bacon. When done, remove bacon and set aside. Coarsely chop when cool.
  2. Sautee the onion and bell pepper over medium heat in the reserved bacon grease until tender (add extra oil if needed). Once tender, add the garlic and sautee for an additional minute of two, making sure not to brown the garlic.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients including the chopped bacon, turn the stove down to a low simmer and cover the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes or until okra has reached your preferred texture.

*Note – this dish is even better if made the day before or if allowed to set for a few hours after cooking to allow the flavors to develop and marry.

Plated up with a nice piece of fish and home made tartar sauce.
Plated up with a nice piece of fish and home made tartar sauce.

     Even though I was craving fried okra when I was at the store, I’m glad I went the healthier route. This dish is chock-full of flavors. A little tart, a little sweet, a little heat and just the right amount of acidity. It doesn’t look very pretty on a plate, but don’t let its looks fool you. Mrs. G declared the dish a winner, although she said I overcooked the bacon. She thinks I shouldn’t have gotten it as crispy as I did.

     As for the fish, we’ll get to that tomorrow. Or the next day. In the meantime, you can find the recipe for our home made Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce HERE. The only changes we’ve made is to use yellow onion instead of the red onion. The red onion tends to turn the sauce pink if allowed to sit to long.

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Flat Iron Steak Salad w/ a Horseradish Dressing

 

Manly Salad
Manly Salad

     We’ve got another healthy recipe for you. Or a semi-healthy one, anyway. Are you getting sick of healthy recipes? Even though this one includes beef and grilling? I know salads get boring…trust me. I’ve been eating enough of them. If you have to eat a salad, why not make it a manly salad with steak? I am sure you women will like it just as much, I know Mrs. G did. 😉

     Don’t get anxious when you see the list of ingredients for this salad. Nothing to be intimidated about. Sure there are a bunch of items, but you can make your salad as simple or as complex as you want. You can opt to use your favorite salad dressing instead of making the Horseradish Dressing, but I highly recommend you try this one. The bite from the horseradish really plays well with the beef.

Red Wine Marinade

  • 1 lb flat iron steak
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4-6 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Place your flat iron steak in a large gallon Zip-lock bag. Add in the ingredients for the marinade, squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours up to overnight. When ready to grill, remove the meat, pat dry with a paper towel and apply your favorite steak rub (we used Dizzy Pig’s Raising the Steaks which is similar to a Montreal Steak Seasoning).

Horseradish Dressing

  • 1 cup  mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish (yes, freshly grated, not out of a jar. I’m not sure how much you would use if you use the jarred stuff)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (we like Louisiana hot sauce, but Franks or Tabasco or whatever you prefer will be fine)

In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, horseradish, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the dressing for 1 hour.

Salad Options

  • mixture of lettuces (we like to use the bags of Spring Mix which has a variety of flavors and textures)
  • tomatoes (grape, cherry, plum, whatever you like)
  • red onions, thinly sliced
  • green onions
  • nuts or seeds
  • cucumbers
  • any other vegetables you may like in your salad
  • cheese (freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, Bleu cheese, Gorgonzola or Feta would all work nicely)
Grilling the steak
Grilling the steak

     Ok, you’ve marinated your steak for at least four hours, you’ve mixed up your dressing and its chilling in the fridge doing its thing, flavors marrying and mingling away. Time to get started. Fire up your gas or charcoal grill to high. My Egg was running about 600F for this cook. Take your flat iron steak out of the marinade and pat dry (wet steaks don’t sear, they steam). Apply your favorite steak rub liberally to both sides and toss it on the grill. You are going to want to grill it for about 4 minutes, flip and continue grilling for another 4 minutes or until it reaches your desired temperature (we were shooting for 135).

This is what ours looked like when we pulled it at 135 and let rest for 10 minutes.
This is what ours looked like when we pulled it at 135 and let rest for 10 minutes.

       Now we’ve talked about this before, but let’s go over it one more time. DO NOT slice up your steak when you pull it off the grill. You want all those juices to spill out leaving you with a dried out steak? No? I didn’t think so. Loosely cover your steak with foil and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the temperature of the steak to carry over a few more degrees, allow the meat to relax and the juices to reabsorb. It is worth it to give it time to rest.

Your patience will be rewarded when you slice into the meat.
Your patience will be rewarded when you slice into the meat.

     While you are waiting for your meat to rest, go ahead and toss your salad with the horseradish dressing, coating every bite in creamy deliciousness. Maybe scrape down the grates on your grill. Possibly enjoy the remainder of the wine you used in the marinade if you haven’t done so already. Once the meat has rested for 10 minutes, slice it against the grain in thin strips. Cut it on a bias if you are so inclined.

That's a salad any man can enjoy.
That’s a salad any man can enjoy.

     After you have sliced the meat, pile up your salad on a plate. Lay the strips on top of the salad and then add your cheese. We opted for thin shaved slice of Parmesan cheese for our salad.

Time to enjoy
Time to enjoy

     We were both extremely happy with this salad. The meat was tender and melted in our mouths. The horseradish dressing paired beautifully with it. Creamy with a bit of tanginess and just the slightest bit of heat. Not to strong, but enough to compliment the beef. It was enough to fill me up and satisfy me.

What I’d do Differently

     I’m not sure I would use the red wine in the marinade. Yes,the acidity and the alcohol helped to tenderize the meat, but it really didn’t add anything flavor wise. No…I think I’ll save the wine for the cook next time and use a different liquid for a tenderizer. I would probably also use the Gorgonzola cheese that I specifically bought for this salad and then promptly forgot. I think it would have gone perfectly with the beef and the horseradish. Whoops on my part.

Grilled Salmon with Smoky Tomato Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Smoky Tomato Salsa

     I don’t always cook the healthiest of meals….SHOCKER!! Right? If you’ve been following along here for any amount of time, you’ve probably figured that out by now. Well, I’ve decided that I am going to try and incorporate more healthy food in my diet. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to indulge myself in some “sinfully good, but oh so bad food” every once in a while, so you can keep coming here and expect to find that. But don’t be surprised to see some healthier alternatives as well.

     I guess you could say I took a page from The Mom Chef at Taking on Magazines. She does what she calls a Turn Back Time Tuesday where she pulls out old magazines and finds an old recipe. Except this isn’t Tuesday. And I don’t keep magazines. What I do (or used to do, haven’t done it in a while) is rip out recipes that I think are interesting and stick them in a binder with high hopes that someday I’ll cook them (most of the time I never do). Anyway, I wanted to find a healthy meal to cook and I remembered that forgotten binder and I knew it must have something in it. So after digging around in the study (that still has not been fully unpacked after 8 months), I found it. Flipping through it, I came across this recipe from Cooking Light Sept 2009. Better late than never, right? And the best part…..its a five ingredient meal!

Grilling vegetables for salsa

     As always, I have to do things my own way, but for once, I feel I pretty much stuck to the recipe. One thing that just seemed wrong to me about this recipe is that they want you to grill the salmon first, then grill your veggies, chop them up and make the salsa. To me that just seemed wrong. The salmon would get cold while taking care of the salsa. And to me, warm salsa on cold salmon did not sound appealing. But cool (or at least room temp) salsa on top of hot salmon….now that holds more appeal.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime (additional lime to sprinkle on salmon if desired)

***That is the original recipe. We pared it down since there are only two of us. 2 salmon fillets, one large tomato, 1/2 a red onion, 1 jalapeno and 1 lime****

Grilling the salmon

Directions

  1. Set up your grill to 400F or medium high
  2. Grill onion and jalapeno for 6 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Grill tomato, cut side down, for 6 minutes. Turn and grill for one minute. Remove from grill and allow to cool. (The recipe said nothing about grilling the lime, but I figured “Why not?”)
  3. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. While resting salmon under foil, coarsely chop tomatoes and onion. Finely chop jalapeno, for a mild salsa, remove seeds first. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and juice from 1/2 lime. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve salsa over salmon and garnish with lime wedges
Grill salmon at 400 F direct for about 4 minutes per side

      The recipe, coming from a magazine focused on healthy food and not grilling, obviously does not take smoke into consideration in its recipe. Lets face it, most people who attempt this recipe will probably use a gas grill. (and there’s nothing wrong with gas, although I personally believe gas goes in a car, not in a grill. 😉 ) I decided to use apple wood for this recipe, but any light wood, especially a fruit wood like apple, cherry or peach, would work well here. And yes, you can use wood chips on a gas grill. Just wrap them in foil and poke a few holes in it to allow smoke to escape.

Plated up

     I’m usually wary about healthy recipes. Often times, they sacrifice flavor in order to be healthy. But that was not the case here. Although the salmon was only flavored with salt and pepper, the salsa more than made up for it with the sweetness of the grilled onions, the acidity from the lime and the heat from the jalapeno. I also wasn’t real sure about using salmon with salsa, but it paired nicely and salmon is a great fish to grill (I’m sure other types of fish would work well in this recipe) If you are looking for a healthy seafood dish that packs a ton of flavor, this just might be the recipe for you.

One last picture cuz I’m super happy about the way they turned out.

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 336
  • Fat 18.6 g (sat 3.7g, mono 6.6, poly 6.8)
  • Protein 34.7g
  • Carb 6.2g
  • Fiber 1.7g
  • Chol 100mg
  • Iron 0.9mg
  • Sodium 399mg
  • Calc 32mg