Regardless of your opinion of okra as a food, you have to admit Ensalada de Molondrones (Okra Salad) is a dish that looks good. It’s also good for you.
We’ve all heard about the Mediterranean diet, held up as one of the healthiest eating regimes the world has known. Just as beneficial but not so well known is – you guessed it – the Dominican diet. Or did you?
At first glance Dominican eating does not hit you in the face as the healthiest way of going about things, especially when you come across people who eat little else but viveres and frituras washed down by shots of over-sweetened coffee, but then again, as one born and bred in the Mediterranean region, I am the first to observe that not all that is Mediterranean is by definition healthy.
In both the Dominican and Mediterranean cases the key elements of delicious and beneficial eating are there, and depending on the balance and selection of foods and the ingredients – the diet can be as healthy or unhealthy as you wish.
Mediterranean peoples from Iberia to the Middle East eat a lot of things that are not known for their healthy qualities. We tend to over-salt the food, it is often very oily, and with the exceptions of the Muslim and Jewish cultures, pig meat and its derivatives are very popular. On the plus side, the much acclaimed use of tomatoes and other vegetables, olive oil, a good range of milk products and wonderful variety are what have earned the Mediterranean diet its well-deserved reputation as a way of enjoying food that does not deprive you of pleasure.
It could be argued that most national or regional cooking is healthy in the right conditions. Even, dare I say, English cooking! But this is a blog about Dominican Cooking and we are here to make the case for the Dominican diet.
Use salt and oil in moderation, don’t fry when there is an alternative like baking, and make the most of the wonderful fruit and vegetables we have at our disposal. Cut down on the sugar, too. I know it is bordering on the heretical to disparage the country’s main export crop, but it is possible to consume less, and you will feel better for it. There is plenty of variety in Dominican cuisine to make it more than just a daily ration of rice and beans.
Check the recipes in our blog tagged light, and try them out for yourself.
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 sprig of parsley, minced
- 1 bell red pepper diced into small cubes
- 1¼ teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 large onion diced into small cubes
- 4 cups of okra cut into 1-inch [2.5 cm] slices.
- Mix half the lime juice, oil, parsley, bell pepper, ¼ teaspoon of salt, pepper and onion. Set aside.
- Boil the okra over medium heat until they are cooked throughout, having added 1 teaspoon of salt and the remaining half of the lime juice to the water.
- When the okra is cooked remove from the heat and discard the water.
- Let it cool down to room temperature.
- Mix with the ingredients that had been set aside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.