Try This Strange Vegetable in Tomato Sauce

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra (known in other countries as bamia, bindi, ladies’ fingers, or gumbo) is an interesting vegetable. Popular in the south, but rarely seen in the rest of the US, this goo-filled green is considered a delicacy when breaded and deep fried. Below is a healthier take, using tomato sauce.

Okra’s unique trait is its gooey mucilage. Some people are disgusted by it, others love it. In any case, it is a good source of soluble fiber! Okra is also a good source of vitamins B1, C, and K as well as magnesium.

Okra in Tomato Sauce:

This dish works well served with brown or wild rice.

Ingredients (serves 5):

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound of whole fresh okra (or thawed frozen okra)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, diced (canned is fine too)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp parsley or mint leaves, chopped (optional)

raw okra


  1. Wash and dry the Okra pods. Chop off their crowns, without exposing the inside goo.
  2. Heat olive oil in saucepan on high
  3. Toss okra, garlic, and jalapeno into saucepan and sauté for 3-5 minutes
  4. Add diced tomatoes and mix well
  5. Add lemon juice, mix and bring to boil
  6. If sauce seems too thick, add up to 1 cup of water
  7. Add paprika, salt and pepper
  8. Cook partially covered on low heat for 30 minutes up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you cook, the softer the okra.
  9. Add mint or parsley before serving.

Nutrition facts (by Carol Harvey of Palate Works)

okra in tomato sauce - nutrition facts

  • Wp

    Okra and gumbo are not the same thing…

    • MamaDee

      Lol they edited it now ;)

      • Wp

        Lol, but it’s still not right. Okra isn’t known as gumbo anywhere. That’s like saying that chicken is known as chicken noodle soup

        • Lauren

          Yeah I’ve lived in the South and eaten gumbo my entire life. I’ve never heard anyone use okra and gumbo interchangeably. One is an entree and one is a stand-alone vegetable…

    • Fooducate
      • Stefan

        You can cite Merriam-Webster all day long: The fact of the matter is that no one actually refers to Okra as ‘Gumbo.’ Okra is merely a component of good gumbo, and gumbo is a lumpy soup with coarsely chopped veggies, spices, rice, and various meats or shell fish.

        • mlcw

          Who Cares
          It’s an interesting recipe.

    • Mike

      I love okra no matter what you call it. But to be technical, the Bantu (spoken in the Congo) word for okra is ki ngombo. So you can see the confusion. Gumbo may have it’s origin in this work as the okra is often used to thicken the gumbo. Some use okra, so use file and others use roux. Still, I think Fooducate is over thinking on this one as they do on many of their articles.

  • Leelanm04

    Have people seriously never heard of okra?!?! I mean i live in southern indiana and I’ve been eating it since i was a kid! Yeah we have it breaded & fried lol but its delicious!! And i dont notice any weird gooeyness but maybe im just used to it lol

    • Dale

      I grew up in Chicago – born and breaded (lol). Okra was one of the very first solid foods I ate as a toddler! I’ve loved it ever since. Steamed, stewed, fried, in succotash and pickled – YUM! I’ve been gorging on them this summer as a steamed and seasoned side dish. Small and young are the way to go when you eat them plain. Older and bigger are delicious when combined with other strong flavors or when pickled. Please try this great ( and widely available) vegetable!

  • Carol

    From what ingredients comes the 3g sugars?

    • Fooducate

      tomato, pepper, onion – in tiny amounts

    • Carol H

      More than 90% of it is coming from the okra and tomato, especially if the tomatoes are ripe. Many vegetables have significant sugar content, especially after cooking. In fact, the nutrition data here probably do not accurately represent the true sugar content, because that info is very difficult to get via database analysis, especially when there are so many factors involved with starch converting to sugar: ripeness, length of cooking, etc. (i.e., it could be a little higher). But with all that fiber, this is not an issue. Keep in mind that we generally (and should) eat many complex foods at one time (i.e., so please stop worrying about a few grams of sugar — it is inconsequential).

      • Carol

        Thanks for answering. In fact, I was wondering where did that data come from. Where I live, “sugars” rarely appear on the nutrition facts not to mention in food database table… Do you mind telling me where can I find such information?

  • Dani

    This is called Bamya in Middle Eastern cuisine!

  • H2O

    Thanks for the suggestion never tried it, gonna have to give it a chance

  • TayD

    I know it’s been said already, but I am from Louisiana and have never heard of okra being called gumbo. There is of course okra gumbo, which means the vegetable has been put into the gumbo for added flavor and texture. Two completely different things.

  • TayD

    Also, pickled okra has always been a favorite of mine. I recommend trying it this way as well! :)

  • Christa

    I think fooducate was referring as okra being called gumbo in other countries. Not In the U.S., where it is obviously only called okra.

  • AdoptiveMum2Seven

    I love my okra breaded and fried… Yum!

    (but in healthy moderation) ;)

  • Electra Poulos

    If you use canned, how many ounces?

  • mfp142

    Growing okra right now! It cans and freezes well and can be used in so many dishes. Dont be afraid of it!