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OKRA'S NOT JUST FOR GUMBO

Okra is an exotic pod to the rest of the country, but in the South you can find it pickled, deep fried, or added to a Cajun soup or stew. Actually, it's a staple in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. When I can find it fresh in the farmer's market, I make my favorite recipe, a Lebanese okra and lamb stew.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. lamb stew meat (You can use beef)

1lb okra

1 cup diced tomatoes

3 tbs tomato paste

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 cup fresh mint

1 or 2 diced onions

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 cup beef stock.

salt and pepper to taste.

olive oil or butter

Directions: saute lamb cubes in olive oil or butter until brown. Remove.

Add onions to the pot and saute until translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, mint, cumin, coriander, and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, then place in a 350 degree oven for one and a half hours.

Cut off nubs of okra pods, wash, then soak in red vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse and saute briefly in olive oil until well coated. After lamb has cooked for one and a half hours, add the okra and a little lemon juice to the pan. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. If sauce appears dry, add more liquid. Serve over rice or couscous.

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