Okra Pesto Recipe
INSPIRED BY ETHIOPIA
Okra, also known as lady fingers, is a pod-producing plant that originated in what is today Ethiopia. While it is seen as a vegetable, its seeds are often toasted, ground, and then used as a coffee substitute. Another use of okra stems from its sticky juice, which is used to thicken stews.
As a member of the cotton and hollyhock family, okra provides another practical use. Old okra can be processed to make paper.
SAVE FOR LATER
Makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups chopped frozen okra, thawed and pat dry
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 Roma tomato, stem removed
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chopped dried chili pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until the desired consistency forms.
If using a mortar and pestle, mash the okra, garlic, ginger, and tomato until fairly smooth. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Mash until the desired consistency forms.
Store pesto in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to one week. Use throughout the week in the next two recipes. Pesto can last in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
One of the most recognizable parts of Ethiopian culture is the coffee ceremony called buna tetu. An invitation to a coffee ceremony is viewed as a sign of friendship and respect. Once the coffee has been made, it’s served with a snack such as popcorn.
In Ethiopia, wat is a spiced dish similar to a stew or curry. It can be made with legumes, such as lentils, or with meat, fish, or vegetables. The recipes for wat vary far and wide from village to village and home to home.