In June 2018, I was lucky enough to travel to Crete with my family. Eugene was attending a scientific conference there in a town called Kolimvari. While Eugene attended the conference sessions during the mornings, I headed off with the kids for some Cretan adventures. On our first morning we drove to Balos, a very famous and beautiful beach in the Chania region. The drive on an unsealed, rocky road with a piddly front-wheel drive car to Balos; followed by the climb down to the beach; the sunning and swimming; then the climb up from the beach to the carpark; and the return car trip on the same hazardous road, made us all ravenous!
I called the concierge at the hotel, Jimmy (a Greek Australian in fact), and asked him for a lunch recommendation for the best traditional Cretan fare in the area. He recommended Erofili, a family run restaurant in Neo Chorio, Chania and we were so glad he did.
The stand-out dish was “Okra in Tomato Sauce.” We wiped that plate CLEAN!!!! When I posted the dish to my social media, there were requests for the recipe. So I asked Jimmy to call Erofili, on our behalf, and ask if the owners would be interested in offering us an “Okra in Tomato Sauce” cooking lesson, and in true Grecian style, they said, “YES!” The sauce was made with purple onions, fresh ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, white wine, fresh parsley, fresh mint, dried sage, oregano and thyme and a lesser known herb called ‘summer savory’ (θρούμπι) – a herb the restaurant owners collect in the wild – that gave the dish an incredible sweetness! The okra were sautéed briefly, until all their sticky-sliminess cooked off and they browned a little, before the sauce was added and they were braised until cooked through.
Watch below as Manoli from Erofili shares his family recipe for their delicious Erofili Sauce. Learn how this recipe came about and his mother’s sage cooking advice!
Recipe shared by Manoli from Erofili Restaurant in Neo Chorio, Chania, Crete
Bamies Me Saltsa Erofili - Greek Okra with Erofili Sauce Recipe
- ⅔ - 1 cup cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 5 small-medium red onions, coarsely diced
- 10 cloves garlic, quartered
- 6 large super-ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 cup white wine
- ½ bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 small handful mint, coarsely chopped
- 1-2 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp summer savory
- 350 g okra
Preparingthe Saltsa Erofili
In a large pot, heat oil on medium-high heat till it reaches its smoking point
Immediately add onions and sauté for 2 minutes
Add a generous pinch of salt
Add the garlic and continue sautéing for 2-3 minutes
Add tomatoes, another generous pinch of salt and some pepper
Place an unvented lid on the pot and cook for 3-4 minutes
Add the fresh herbs and coverpot with unvented lid again
After 1 minute stir in theherbs and add the wine
Reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 1 ½ hours
Add water, as needed, so thesauce can continue to cook for this amount of tim
Stir through the dried herbs and take the pot off heat
Preparing Okra with Saltsa Erofili
Trim, wash and dry the okra(see Okra 101 video for okra-trimming tutorial)
Heat some EVOO on medium-high in a wide fry-pan
Add the okra and sauté till they begin to brown (the okra will release their slime, but it will get cooked off – have no fear)
Add some of the Saltsa Erofili to the pan and continue cooking the okra on a gentle boil for about 15 minutes. How much sauce you use depends on how many okra you cook.
Serving the Okra with Saltsa Erofili
Serve the okra with crusty bread for a delicious meal! Enjoy!