Okra & Tomato Dumplings with Sharp Cheddar and Summer Squash
Keeping dumpling wrappers on hand makes for an inexpensive way to fold the best of the season into a pocket that can be fried up and served with a tasty dipping sauce or frozen quick, easy meal when you don't have time to cook. I pinched this round of tomato and okra dumplings with Summer squash and sharp cheddar together to save the best of September’s produce from my parent’s very prolific garden out in Driftwood, and our CSA at Johnson’s Backyard Farm.
The Best of Texas Summer Produce
Okra fried in bacon fat with onions, then stewed in tomatoes would’ve been a delicious filling as-is, but I was on a quest to use up some of our abundant Summer squash from JBG with this batch of seasonal dumplings. Just barely cooking slices of super fresh Summer squash (or zucchini) in with the okra after salting and draining makes for a clean, crisp texture. I added the “brined” squash into to a skillet of stewed okra, and a hefty sprinkle of sharp cheddar to stand up next to the tang of the tomato and to bind the dumpling filling.
I get my dumpling wrappers from Hana World Market on Parmer Lane in Austin, which is my favorite place to shop for rice noodles, sweet potato noodles, chili oil, kimchi, fish sauce, and coconut milk. And, they have at least 10 different varieties of frozen dumpling wrappers (yes, we owe you a write up on each of them, stay tuned). I used sturdy Korean mandu wrappers for this recipe because I knew they’d hold up even after being filled with vegetables that still have some bite and shape to them— and mandu wrappers take well to pan frying on both sides, which is how I finished this batch. If you can’t make it to Hana, many grocery stores carry wonton wrappers, which will work just as well in a pinch, but I might suggest cutting your squash and okra into smaller pieces since the frozen wonton wrappers tend to be more delicate and tear easier when you stuff them.
RECIPE FOR OKRA & SUMMER SQUASH DUMPLINGS WITH SHARP CHEDDAR AND TOMATO
4-5 small yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch thick half moons
2 slices of bacon
1 shallot or red onion, chopped
1 lb of okra, cut into ½ inch slices
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
¾ cup cheddar cheese
Remove dumpling wrappers from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Place sliced squash in a colander and sprinkle with salt, then leave it to and drain while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Cook the bacon in a hot skillet and remove from pan once it reaches desired crispiness. Try not to eat all of it while you make the okra. Add shallot or onion to the hot fat and cook on low-medium heat until translucent. Add okra to the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Spoon in apple cider vinegar, then add the tomatoes to the pan. Add more salt to taste. Turn up the heat and cook until most of the liquid is reduced and the okra is tender. Remove from heat and stir in the squash, then add salt and pepper to taste.
Crumble what is left of the bacon and stir it into the vegetables. Allow the mixture to cool before you mix in shredded cheese. Fold your dumplings any way you see fit.
Place folded dumplings onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. If you plan on freezing your dumplings, place the sheet pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes before putting them in ziplock bags and back into the freezer.
If you are cooking the dumplings right away, I like pan frying them like Diana Kuan suggests, over at Appetite for China.