Fusilli Pasta with Okra Tomato Sauce

Before I left in July, I was committed to cooking on the road. I didn't want to just live off almond butter sandwiches (although, I admit, I've had plenty!). I wanted to make delicious food wherever I was, with whatever I had available.

Before we left Savannah, we stopped at the Farmer's Market. In fact, we stayed an extra day in order to go to this Farmer's Market. It's on Saturday mornings in Forsyth Park (of course - the park is THE place to be!). While the market wasn't very large, it did have some quality products.

I ended up with this lot:

Each of these items made me so happy. 

Verdant Kitchen is a local farm that grows ginger and makes all sorts of ginger products. From ginger ale to ginger syrup (so good!) to ginger snaps. They have it all - except fresh ginger, which I thought was a little strange. Nevertheless, I bought some candied ginger. I love to munch on Trader Joe's candied ginger, especially when I need to keep my motion sickness at bay. Verdant Kitchen's candied ginger puts Trader Joe's to shame. It melts in my mouth and has a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I could live off this stuff.

Georgia is also known for pecans, so I picked up some of those for our oatmeal. 

Fresh okra isn't something I've ever seen before, so I had get some. It was at nearly every stand in the market. I love the purple variety! 

I knew I wanted to make a pasta dish and was delighted when I found some fresh, local pasta at the market to go with my fresh summer tomatoes. 

We left Savannah and drove to Little Talbot Island State Park just outside Jacksonville, Florida, about 2 hours from Savannah. 

I love cooking with items that most people wouldn't have at a campsite. Of course I have several Oilerie products with me from my stint at working there before we left, including their Aged Balsamic Vinegar. I used avocado oil in the pasta because it has a high smoke point and controlling the heat on a camp stove is tricky. When you make this dish, you can use your favorite oil.

I had never cooked with fresh okra before. Frozen okra often has a slimy layer (sorry, there's no better word to describe it!) when heated and fresh okra has it too. Fortunately, a little lemon juice will cut right through it.

My favorite spice on this trip has been smoked Spanish paprika. It has a little bit of heat and a nice smokey flavor, so I don't have to use a lot in order to add some depth to my dishes. I put it on everything that needs a little lift - scrambled eggs, sautéed vegetables, tomato sauces, etc. 

Also, I did add a can of sardines to this dish. Feel free to omit this if you want to keep the dish vegan; however, if you eat fish, I recommend adding them. Sardines are super healthful! They are high in protein, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, and potassium. Plus, since they are lower on the food chain they don't have high amounts of any toxins and are sustainable. 

I don't love the fishy taste of sardines and the tomato sauce does a good job covering that up. So, add them for their nutrition, not for their flavor.

Fusilli Pasta with Okra Tomato Sauce
2 large servings 

3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 inches ginger, minced
1 cup sliced okra
1/2 lemon
1 can sardines, drained and chopped (optional)
4 oz fusilli (or any other past that has crevices for holding sauce)
2 teaspoons oil (I used avocado oil)
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional - this will make a SPICY dish!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the onions and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger and cook for about a minute, or until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, okra, paprika, and red pepper (if using). Simmer until the okra is soft but still has a small bite to it, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and sardines (if using). Let sit while the pasta cooks.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  6. To serve, top each plat of pasta with the sauce. 

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