I love this recipe – it is so versatile, and the sort of recipe you can pre-prepare the ingredients, charring the okra and tossing it with the other ingredients at the last moment. The preserved lemon and fresh lemon juice contrast so wonderfully with the charred but still crunchy okra. This dish is GOOD.
The okra can also be charred on the BBQ (grill), tossing them on the hot plate as you sip wine and talk to friends. Then throw them into a pan and toss them with the other ingredients and place on the table for your guests to munch on (try with some flat bread) while you get on with BBQing the rest of the meal. I use a kadhai (Indian wok, flatter than a Chinese one) to make this dish, it is perfect for it.
It is an Ottolenghi recipe, of course, born of the Israeli and Palestinian roots of Sammy and Yotham. Okra features well in these cuisines, from the sun dried okra hanging from strings, to being served in dishes heavy with tamarind syrup. What a divine thought!
For this dish, use short, young, fresh, crisp okra only.
Perhaps try some other Middle Eastern dishes: Babaganoush, Falafel, Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta and Chickpea “Tabbouleh”.
We have a wealth of Ottolenghi recipes that we have tried. Or have a look at all of our Okra recipes and all of our Salad recipes. Our Middle Eastern Dishes are here. Or spend some time browsing our Mid Autumn dishes.
Warm Salad of Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic and Preserved Lemon
30 very small okra
2 Tblspn olive oil, plus more as needed
4 garlic cloves
20g preserved lemon skin, cut into wedges
3 small tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges
0.5 Tblspn flat leaf parsley, chopped
0.5 Tblspn green coriander (cilantro), chopped
1 Tblspn lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the okra by trimming the stems just above the pod, but don’t expose the seeds. Use a small, sharp knife, and trim by slicing off about 2/3 of the stem knob and, with the blade slanted, continue in a circular motion around the top of the okra, trimming it. It is rather like sharpening a pencil.
Place a large, heavy based frying pan on a high heat and leave for a few minutes to heat well. Once very hot, throw in half of the okra and dry cook, shaking the pan periodically, for 4 minutes or until the okra pods have the occasional dark blister. Remove from the pan and keep aside. Repeat with the remaining okra.
Return all of the okra to the pan (which has cooled slightly) with the garlic, olive oil and preserved lemon. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, shaking the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, 2 Tblspns water, the chopped herbs, lemon juice, a little salt and some black pepper. Stirring gently only enough as is necessary, cook for 2 minutes so that the tomatoes warm through.
Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
I like to toss cherry tomatoes in with the okra, once they have charred, and the olive oil, allowing the tomatoes to char slightly too. You can do this with wedges of tomatoes as well as long as you put the wedges in skin side down. Then add the garlic, a little later add the water, and go from there.
Minimise stirring of the dish so the okra do not break up. This eliminates the sliminess that can come with okra.