High summer in Florida – the local farms have plenty of okra, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes… And sometimes it gets a little overwhelming trying to figure out yet another recipe for some of these veggies. We made this from local okra and eggplant – it’s super abundant right now and very affordable, not to mention healthy and delicious!
If you’re local to Ocala, make sure you check out 326 Market. Thursday afternoons from 4-7. It’s a smallish market and the people couldn’t be nicer! There’s local honey, locally made jams, preserves, jellies (ask for a sample, you won’t be able to pass it by!), artisan jewelers, home made laundry detergents, ducks, chicks, bunnies, a woman selling breads and pastries (key lime pound cake, don’t miss it!), and my favorite – local fresh vegetables. They also have live music and it looks like they’re getting a pretty great line up! Definitely go check them out and tell Cathy I sent you.
I picked up two pints of okra and two large Italian eggplants and I decided to try something a little bit different. Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice. It was kind of like a vegan, Italian, I don’t know… gumbo? And it was delicious!
- 2 pints of okra
- 2 large eggplants
- sea or kosher salt
- extra virgin olive oil.
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups brown rice
- 1 large sweet onion
- a big pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (I like the no BPA Muir Glen)
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (the dark kind)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Clean the eggplant and okra – peel the eggplant, dice into smallish pieces and place on a lined baking sheet. Trim the heads of the okra, (if they’re very small and new – this step isn’t necessary, but the bigger they get, the tougher the tops get. Slice the okra into rounds and place them on the baking sheet too. Pour a good amount of olive oil and a couple of big pinches of salt over the top and using your hands, mix it all – trying to make sure that each piece gets coated.
Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the eggplant is soft.
Meanwhile, cook your rice according to package directions. I use vegetable broth instead of plain water, but this recipe is so flavorful, you really don’t have to do that. Use a bigger pot than you think you need – in the end we’re going to combine everything in this pot.
Chop your onion and heat a large dutch oven on med/high heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan and when it’s hot, add the onion.
Allow to cook until the onion is translucent,
chop your garlic and when the onion is nice and shiny, add the red pepper flake and garlic – stir.
When the garlic is really aromatic, add the tomatoes and balsamic and stir well. Careful. The vinegar is strong smelling!! Lower the heat to low, cover and let it simmer.
Allow everything to finish cooking. Nothing’s going to burn – this is a no stress meal! When the rice is ready, carefully add the okra, eggplant and tomato sauce to the rice. Stir well with a big spoon, plate and serve!
A little cracked pepper to finish is perfect!
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