Quick Chicken and Okra Stew
Okra's characteristic sliminess functions as a natural, flavorful thickening agent in stews and soups.

Makes 4 servings


1 tablespoon plus olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 pound okra, tops removed and sliced thickly
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth, with 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup queso freso cheese, plus extra for garnish*

1 cup cooked grain of your choice, such as quinoa, brown rice, or couscous

1. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, warm olive oil. Add onions; saute 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Add chicken. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until browned.

3. Add red bell peppers, okra, and jalapeno. Saute 3 minutes.

4. Add diced tomatoes with juice, vegetable broth with cornstarch, cumin, and salt. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy, and the sauce has slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in fresh cilantro and queso fresco. Season with salt as desired.

5. Add 1/4 cup cooked grains to each dish. Top with 1/4 of the stew. Garnish with additional cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately. 

*Queso fresco, a mild flavored, soft Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture, is available at Mexican specialty markets as well as the refrigerator section of most major supermarkets. Cotija anejo, another mild-flavored Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture, is a good substitute and is also found in most major supermarkets.