My first job, when I was a young teen, was working at a farmers’ market for a vegetable farmer who would park his truck in a parking lot a little before 6am, unload while I showed up, and then drive away, leaving me in charge of everything. I displayed the vegetables, weighed stuff out, made change. It remains one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had. However, if there was one thing (besides getting up at 5:20am) that I didn’t like about that job, it was the okra.
Okra hurts. I had never eaten okra before, and it would be many more years before I would try it for the first time, but a lot of people in our town liked it, and it was my job to put it in a bag for them. It was like handling baby nettles. Not a lot of fun.
Okra is one of those vegetables that a lot of people don’t bother with. It has a weird name and it rarely shows up on the menu of favorite restaurants. I re-discovered okra when I was on a diet. As it turns out, you could probably eat okra forever and never gain weight. It’s one of the lowest calorie foods in existence. And I discovered that if you buy it frozen, it isn’t prickly!
Okra has a funny name in Greek too, borrowed from Turkish; maybe there’s just something about okra that makes people want to give it funny names. Here it’s called bamies / μπάμιες (pronounced BAHM-yes).
This dish is about as simple as it gets if you want to understand Greek cooking. The simple Greek recipe of “chop up some potatoes, carrots, and onions and throw them in a pot with ______ and some tomato sauce” is the basis of many Greek dishes. So let’s get to it.
Chop the potatoes and carrots and throw them in a large pot with the okra.
Add some onion, garlic, and diced tomatoes.
Add enough water to cover the whole thing, and stir well.
Cover and cook until everything softens up nicely. Add olive oil and serve with bread. It’s that simple. This is a very popular comfort food in Greece. Warm and earthy and healthy and delicious!
500g frozen okra
3 cups cubed potatoes
4-5 carrots, in rounds
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 can diced tomatoes in their juice
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Put the okra, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and salt in a large pot. Stir and cover with water. Stir well and cover the pot.
2. Cook on medium-high heat until the potatoes are soft and the okra has started to break down.
3. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil over each serving. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with bread and a block of good Greek feta cheese.
per serving, i.e., 1/4 of the total recipe
14g fat (2g saturated, 12g unsaturated)
9g dietary fiber
0mg cholesterol (0% DV)
1,034mg sodium (43% DV)
1,206mg potassium (34% DV)
Contains a significant amount (+10% DV) of the following:
vitamin A (412%), calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, iron, riboflavin, folate, manganese, and copper.