This rich stew is wonderfully aromatic thanks to its mix of spices and herbs, and it cooks in minutes. Different beans can really affect the look and “mouth feel”; try it with baby limas, with Tocomares Chocolate, and see. But the real reason for including it is to make a pitch for that under-appreciated vegetable, okra. For those who weren’t raised with okra, it’s a “joke” vegetable. Yes, it can be slimy if overcooked—so don’t overcook it.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions, peppers, poblano and serrano chiles, and garlic over medium heat, until they just begin to color and are crisp-tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fennel, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, wine, and stock, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t overcook—the vegetables should still have texture. Add the okra and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until the okra is barely tender (if you overcook, the okra becomes “slimy”). Stir in the beans and chopped cilantro and warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
To serve, ladle the stew into warm soup plates, garnish with chopped herbs, if using, and serve.
Garnish if you like with additional chopped fresh cilantro or mint leaves
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.