The Farmer’s Market Plate

The Farmer's Market Plate

If you come across any farmer’s market in the southern states right about now you’re bound to find a bounty of the things on my plate: okra, tomatoes and eggplant. Soon we’ll get corn and then peaches right after that. The best peaches – so sweet and juicy that just for a moment you forget about the endless hot humidity that is Summer in the south. Last week’s post was the most difficult for me to write, ever. I wrote about nothing, silly stuff, like what we ate for lunch that day but my mind was all consumed with what happened in Charleston. I guess I thought that writing about it would make it that much more real and I was still in a state of disbelief so I said nothing. I grew up in South Carolina, I lived in Charleston for four years and attended college there, it’s where we go when we need to get away from it all and visit my sister and just have a good time. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen here, ugh… typical, naive last words. I began pouring my emotions out into this post beginning with anger and then heartbreak. Each day I would delete the words I wrote the day before. Nothing I said seemed worth saying, nothing can fix this.

“Peace is not something you wish for, it is something you make, something you are, something you do, and something you give away. ”
― Robert Fulghum

The Farmer's Market Plate

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Ingredients for the Farmer’s Plate 

1 small eggplant, cubed

1 onion, diced

1 block of firm tofu (I like the organic sprouted kind)

about 2 cups okra, sliced

about 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch of thai basil leaves

ghee, butter or olive oil for sautéing the onions

salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes to taste


Ingredients for the “Breading”

1/2 cup of polenta or cornmeal

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon salt

fresh ground pepper



It’s best to cut and prep all the ingredients before you begin cooking so that every ingredient is ready to go. Start by cutting up the eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and let drain to remove excess liquid. Drain, dry and cube the tofu. Slice up the okra. Mix up the ingredients for the crispy coating. Toss okra slices into polenta mixture to coat. Heat a dab of butter, ghee and or a bit of olive oil in a pan. Sauté okra until light brown, crispy and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste, remove from pan and set aside. Gently toss tofu cubes in leftover polenta mixture to coat (add more polenta if needed). Sauté the tofu just like the okra – until light brown, crispy and fragrant. Remove from pan, sprinkle with salt to taste. Heat a bit of olive oil on medium heat to sauté the diced onion. Add a pinch of salt and more spices (cumin and curry, if you like). Cook until translucent and beginning to caramelize then add the the eggplant. While the eggplants cooks and melts into the onions, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the pan along with the garlic (I like adding the garlic near the end for super yummy layers of flavors). Cook until tender – about 5 to 8 minutes. Add another pinch of salt to taste and basil leaves. Serve with with the crispy okra and the crispy tofu. Garnish with more basil leaves.



For those of you sitting on the okra fence and put off by the potential slime factor may actually enjoy it the way it is prepared here. It’s not completely battered and deep-fried but just lightly coated in polenta and spices to add crispiness and flavor that is surprisingly delicious and addicting – and that’s saying a lot from a former okra hater.

If you’re as crazy as I am about the thai basil and eggplant combo check out these recipes:

Miso Grilled Eggplant with Garlicky Thai Basil Sauce + Freekeh

Eggplant & Tofu Ratatouille with Thai Basil

7 Responses to “The Farmer’s Market Plate”

  1. Jessie Snyder | Faring Well

    It’s hard to understand why such evil takes place… I feel like maybe we aren’t suppose to know. But our hearts still break nonetheless. This salad is a little ray of sunshine in the midst <3

  2. Sarah | Well and Full

    The fact that you’re writing about this at all is important to mention. Healing can’t occur without acknowledgement. Here in New England we all heard about the shootings on the news, but we didn’t really “experience” it as a community, you know? And the fact that you wrote about it kind of brought this tragedy into a greater light, for me at least. Sadly it can be easy to kind of get desensitized from all the terrible things you hear on the news, but reading about someone’s actual feelings and experiences – that drives it home. So thank you for writing what you did.

  3. Olivia Ribas

    Beautiful post, friend. I totally agree with the quote you posted at the end. It is hard to understand something like this. It is sad! But your salad looks awesome, delicious and very yummy!

  4. Pea Fritters

    thai basil is in a class of it’s own! this looks delish. So many okra dishes around at the moment, need to branch out and give it a go.

  5. Katie @ Whole Nourishment

    It is such a sad fact that this hate still exists today. Great post, Grace. And delicious summer plate. I love okra. My grandmother would always make stewed okra and tomatoes. Definitely an acquired taste and texture, but this preparation would win anyone over I think.


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