Greek okra stewed in tomato sauce, or bamies latheres me domata as it is called in Greek, is a traditional Greek recipe of okra cooked to perfection in a tomato and olive oil based sauce. Before cooking the okra, they are prepared to remove the slimy texture. This can be a wonderful side dish, or even the main meal.
It’s definitely true that not everyone loves okra. This is a very divisive recipe, like fried liver, and anything with artichokes. I think that part of the reason that okra get such a bad rap is because when they are not cooked right, they can be slimy and a bit gross. In this recipe I have shown you how to prepare the okra to remove the unpleasant texture.
Why I love this recipe
Μπαμιές λαδέρες με σάλτσα ντομάτα. Yes, there are people out there (and here) that love okra. In our family, we are of those people, and we think you might be too, even if you don’t know it yet! Once you embrace the idea of trying okra, and you make my reciipe for Greek okra stewed in tomato sauce, I think that it will become your new favourite side dish. In fact, this recipe is so good, I often make it as the main meal – I just eat more of it! Serve with some bread and some feta and olives and you have a meal fit for a King or Queen (also, speaking of Queen, check out this heirloom variety of okra called Silver Queen).
One of the main reasons people cite for not like okra is because of the slime. Yes, they are slimy, and that can be a little off-putting. At the same time, the mucilaginous juice (that’s a polite way of saying slime) found inside the okra serves a purpose. It is an excellent thickening agent, which is why okra are so popular in Caribbean stews and gumbos and in Indian curries. In Greek cooking however, when we make stewed okra, we don’t really want the slime and we’ll teach you how we get rid of it!
Okra I use fresh okra, which are technically a fruit! They are green, tube-like in shape, and have a grassy or earthy flavour.
Red wine vinegar The acidity in the red wine vinegar helps to remove breakdown the sliminess which is often off-putting.
Red onion I love the flavour and colour of red onions (even though most of the colour gets washed out when cooked).
Olive oil Extra virgin Greek olive oil is what I rely on for its deep and fragrant flavour.
Water Regular tap water is fine, filtered is best if possible.
Tomato sauce or passata I usually use my parents’ homemade tomato sauce, but a good quality strained tomato or passata is wonderful as well.
Salt & pepper Staple seasonings! Add as much as you like, to taste.
How to make
Follow these simple instructions to prepare your okra and remove any sliminess and then to cook it in a lovely tomato and olive oil sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
Prepare your okra by cutting off the stem, and the tip. Be very careful not to cut through to expose the seeds. Watch video here.
Wash your okra well and then place them in a bowl with the vinegar and enough water to cover. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes.
Drain and rinse your okra and then lay them in a single layer on your baking tray. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 10 minutes until they are dry. Set aside.
Instructions to make
In a large pot combine the olive oil with the onion and saute for approximately 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add in the okra, the water and the tomato sauce. Set the heat to medium and allow to cook, covered with the lid slightly ajar to let some steam escape.
Cook your okra for about 45 -55 minutes on medium low heat until they are soft. Check on your pot regularly and add more water 1/4 cup at a time, as needed.
While your okra are cooking, stir them by shaking the pot or very gently using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. As the okra cook they become delicate and can be broken apart if you’re not careful. Your okra are ready when they are fork tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Allow to cool slightly and serve. Greek stewed okra in tomato (Bamies latheres me domata) is best served with bread for dunking into the rich sauce!
Use frozen okra
If you prefer you can use frozen okra. If you do, you can cook them from frozen but reduce the amount of water you use in the recipe to 1 1/2 cups. You can also skip the steps to prepare okra; frozen okra are ready to use.
Use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Even plain white vinegar will work fine.
Use yellow onion instead of red onion.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
How to shop for okra
If you’re lucky you will be able to find fresh okra at a farmer’s market or in your own back yard. I have grown okra in my garden and although the yield wasn’t huge, there was enough to prepare small batches of meals such as this one and my other favourite, okra with cauliflower (Μπάμιες με κουνουπίδι).
When buying okra look for pods that are a bright green, unblemished, smooth and tender. Also, try to find pods that are no longer than four inches long; these work best for recipe like Greek okra stewed in tomato sauce or other stews. The larger pods tend to be tougher and do better in gumbos.
How to prepare okra
Preparing okra for recipes like this one is easy but there are a few steps involved. First, you need to cut off any of the tough bits, often found at the very tip of the okra and the stem. For the pointy tip, you really only want to snip off the very end only; any area that is brown. Trimming down the stem end is a little trickier because it is cone shaped. Because of this you have to hold your knife (we use a small paring knife) at an angle and move it around the okra cutting off a layer of the stem. You have to be careful not to cut off too much, otherwise you will expose the inner seeds. You can see what I mean in the pictures which follow, and the video I’ve linked to in the recipe box.
How to get rid of the slime in okra
I promise you guys, this works! My parents have taught me a two-step method that they use to get rid of the slime. First, they soak the okra in a combination of water and red wine vinegar, and then they dry roast them. Not only do these two simple steps successfully remove the slime from your okra, they also add a depth of flavour that otherwise may not be there.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use frozen okra instead of fresh okra?
Sometimes the best thing to do is to settle on frozen vegetables. There are certainly advantages to using frozen okra to make Greek stewed okra in tomato sauce, or bamies latheres me domata, and the main perk is the ease – using frozen okra means that you don’t have to prep them. Cook your okra from frozen, reduce the amount of water as indicated in the recipe card below, and cook from there!
What does okra taste like?
A lot will depend on how you prepare the okra of course, but in and of themselves okra have a very unique, almost grassy flavour. Some people describe the flavour as similar to green beans.
How to serve
You can either serve the okra as the main course (a perfect option during Orthodox Lent) or as a side dish; this would be amazing served alongside pork souvlaki.
No matter how you serve the okra, be sure to offer up some delicious bread to sop up all the amazing sauce.
Storing and reheating
Cooking okra can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days. To reheat, you can either use the microwave or on the stove top.
This recipe will serve 4 people.
Here are some other recipes using okra, or other greens
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Greek stewed okra in tomato (Bamies latheres me domata)
- 700 grams fresh okra See Recipe Note
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 red onion
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cups water
- 1½ cups tomato sauce or passata
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
To prepare okra
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Prepare your okra by cutting off the stem, and the tip. Be very careful not to cut through to expose the seeds. Watch video here.700 grams fresh okra
- Wash your okra well and then place them in a bowl with the vinegar and enough water to cover. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes.½ cup red wine vinegar
- Drain and rinse your okra and then lay them in a single layer on your baking tray. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 10 minutes until they are dry. Set aside.
Prepare your Greek stewed okra in tomato sauce
- In a large pot combine the olive oil with the onion and saute for approximately 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add in the okra, the water and the tomato sauce. Set the heat to medium and allow to cook, covered with the lid slightly ajar to let some steam escape.1 red onion, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 cups water, 1½ cups tomato sauce or passata
- Cook your okra for about 45 -55 minutes on medium low heat until they are soft. Check on your pot regularly and add more water 1/4 cup at a time, as needed.
- While your okra are cooking, stir them by shaking the pot or very gently using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. As the okra cook they become delicate and can be broken apart if you're not careful. Your okra are ready when they are fork tender. Season with salt and pepper.1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper
- Allow to cool slightly and serve. Greek stewed okra in tomato (Bamies latheres me domata) is best served with bread for dunking into the rich sauce!