Sautéed Okra with Onions

In our latest flash contest, VegOut! participants submitted #VegOutVideo entries, showing them vegging out this month for the challenge. Our winning video was submitted by Shubhra Ramineni, whose daughter Jaya demonstrated the secret to avoiding the unwanted “slime” sometimes released by okra when you slice it.

Congrats, Shubhra! Your gift card for Sparrow Bar + Cookshop is in the mail… enjoy!

Take a peek at the cute #VegOutVideo, and then see Shubhra’s recipe below.


Okra, known as “lady’s fingers” in India, has a beautiful bright green color and looks wonderful on the table. This simple and easy way to cook okra will leave you with a delicious dish, without any of the okra “slime!” When buying fresh okra, avoid the flimsy, flexible ones. Look for crisp ones in which the tail end can be snapped off. Avoid the very hard okra that are over-ripe with brown seeds instead of the ideal white seeds. I also never cover okra when cooking because doing so will darken its color. Okra can be eaten with Indian flatbreads, such as Naan or Chapathi, and goes well when paired with lentil dishes. – Shubhra

Sautéed Okra with Onions (Bhindi Pyaz)
Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes (15 minutes if using fresh whole okra)
Cook time: 35 minutes
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted okra in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place them in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir periodically.

1 lb (500 g) fresh okra or frozen, precut okra
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Juice of ½ lime
1 small onion,  sliced into half moons
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • If you’re using frozen okra, do not defrost. If you’re using fresh okra, wash the okra and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Trim the tip and head and discard. Slice each okra into ¼-inch (6-mm) pieces.
  • Pour the oil into a large nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. (Place over high heat if using frozen okra.) When the oil is heated, add the okra and lime juice. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion, turmeric, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Sauté until the okra is tender and the onion becomes transparent, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

Okra has a peculiar, slimly substance to it that is released when the okra is cut and washed. The first time I cooked okra, I washed it after I chopped it and had slime everywhere! That is why it is important to wash it and pat dry before chopping to reduce the release of the sticky material. If you’re using frozen okra, it is best not to defrost it first, as it will become flimsy and release a lot of slimy substance. When okra is cooked with lime juice, any slime disappears as the okra cooks.

Recipe from Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People by Shubhra Ramineni. Learn more about Shubhra, her cookbooks and upcoming events and classes at


Many Vegetable Lasagna

The 2014 VegOut! Challenge close is right around the corner! It’s been a speedy one, no? In case you’re almost there and need a recipe to push you over the 30 veg edge, try this recipe by Francine Spiering, who writes over at Life in the Food Lane. The nine veggies in this dish will surely help you reach the finish line.

Many Vegetable Lasagna

Many Vegetable Lasagna
This recipe serves 2-3 adults

This combination of vegetables creates a lasagna that is abundant both in flavor and color. Sweetness from the yellow beet and squash, hearty flavors from the onion, kale and celeri, aromatic flavors from the garlic, eggplant and bell pepper, and acidity from the tomatoes. – Francine
Vegetable sauce:
1 medium eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow (golden) beet
1/2 acorn squash
1 cup cooked kale*
2-3 stalks celeri
1 medium onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 cup peeled and diced tomato
1 cup (or less) water
1 bayleaf
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh herbs: thyme, mint and basil (to taste)
spice it up to your liking: I used a tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of dried ginger, a pinch of cayenne, and salt/pepper (my pinches are generous)

Ricotta mixture:
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs
1 “ball” mozzarella, chopped fine
1 cup grated parmesan
salt/pepper to taste
6-9 sheets lasagna (depending on the number of layers you prefer)
  • A lasagna being a flat-layered dish, I like to cut all vegetables into half-moons and/or slices. Also, lazy me, I use lasagna sheets that need no precooking.
  • Heat the olive oil in a wide casserole dish. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until soft (about 5 min).
  • Add the eggplant, beetroot, bell pepper, squash, and celeri, stir and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf and half the water. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add more water if it looks too dry. Taste, add salt/pepper, the cooked kale, and fresh thyme and shredded basil.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta mixture: Whisk the eggs until foamy, stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and half of the parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Assemble: In an oven-safe casserole dish, spoon some of the vegetable sauce to cover the bottom. Place lasagna sheets on top of sauce, next to each other but an inch or so apart, and from the sides (the lasagna sheets expand in the oven). Spoon more vegetable sauce, cover with lasagna sheets, add another layer if you like (dividing the sauce accordingly), and finally the ricotta mixture.
  • When your layers are done, cover the entire dish with the ricotta mixture. Spread  evenly and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. If you like, also sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 400F and bake for another 20 minutes or until bubbling and slightly browning on the top.
  • Finish by sprinkling with fresh herbs and  small capers.
  • Serve more or less immediately.
The cooked kale was a leftover from a previous meal. You could add raw, chopped kale to the sauce to simmer along with the rest of the vegetables. It’s bitter-green taste can dominate, though. If you want to balance the flavors, “wilt” the kale first (in the microwave, for instance).

 Read more of Francine’s culinary musings and recipes at Life in the Food Lane.

Shubhra’s Fire Roasted Eggplant

Shubhra Ramineni is a culinary instructor, busy mom of a veggie-loving girl and award-winning cookbook author of Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook. Shubhra’s no-fuss cooking style recreates authentic Indian flavors using easy techniques and fresh and easily available ingredients.

 Shubhra has generously provided a  copy of her latest tome, Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook for one lucky VegOut! participant who completes the 30-day challenge this March.

In the mean time, she’s shared one of her simple, yet elegant recipes to inspire you in your food adventure…

Shubhra's Fire Roasted Eggplant

Smoked eggplant is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and is fun to make! The eggplant, also known as brinjal in India, is roasted directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could roast the eggplant under an oven broiler or cook it on an outdoor grill. If you use an oven broiler, it is not as messy, but you will not get the smoky taste that comes from cooking directly over an open flame. This dish can be served with naan or as an appetizer along with lightly toasted wedges of pita bread. – Shubhra

Fire Roasted Eggplant (Baingan Bhartha)

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes if using a gas stove
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted eggplant in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.


1 large eggplant, globe variety (about 1 lb/500 g)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 extra teaspoon oil if using an oven)
1 small onion, diced
1 fully ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt 


On the stove:

  • If you’re using a gas stove to roast the eggplant, place aluminum foil under a large burner to make clean-up easier.  Wash and dry the eggplant.   Place the eggplant directly on the gas burner on high heat.  Using tongs, frequently turn the eggplant to make sure all sides are evenly cooked, about 8 minutes.  When done, the eggplant will become very soft and mushy. The skin will be charred, and it will have collapsed in on itself.  Also, some liquid will release the cooking process, which will be caught by the foil.  Remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the foil.
  • If you’re using your oven to roast the eggplant, preheat the broiler to high. Wash and dry the eggplant.  Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil on the eggplant so it will not dry out while cooking. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet on the highest rack possible near the broiler and turn frequently until the eggplant is evenly charred and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Using your fingers, peel the skin off the eggplant and discard.  After you have removed the skin, hold the eggplant over your sink by the stem with one hand.  Wet your other hand and very gently grab the eggplant and run your hand down it to help take off any small remaining bits of skin.
  • Place the eggplant in a shallow dish.  Holding the eggplant by the stem, use a potato masher to mash the eggplant flesh and break it apart.  (The stem will become separated from the eggplant flesh.  Do not discard the stem.)
  • Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato.  Cook until the tomato pieces become soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.   Add the mashed eggplant (including the stem and the juices), red pepper and salt. Stir to combine.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve the eggplant on a platter, along with the stem, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

On the grill:

  • Wash and dry the eggplant.   Heat a grill on medium-high heat.  When the grill is heated, place the eggplant directly on the grill rack.  Close the grill, and check back every 5 minutes to turn the eggplant.  Cook for a total of 20 minutes with the grill closed.  Cook until all four sides of the eggplant are soft and mushy.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Continue with steps 3 to 7. 

Recipe from Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People by Shubhra Ramineni. Learn more about Shubhra, her cookbooks and upcoming events and classes at

When is winter squash grown?

Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable, representing several species within the genus Cucurbita, including butternut, acorn, spaghetti, calabaza and delicata. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Do you have a favorite winter squash?

Secret of the bell pepper rainbow?

Red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers actually come from the same plant! Green bell peppers are harvested early before they’ve fully ripened, giving them their bitter edge, while yellow and orange hang on slightly longer, with reds being picked last, making rich in sweetness and nutrients! Do you have a pepper preference?