If you’ve been reading long enough or just know me, you know I love vintage cookbooks. One of my favorites is the classic Charleston Receipts, which I received from Patrick when his uncle passed away a few years ago. One of the things beyond studying the historical dishes that have been passed down from generations is to make and update them a bit to better suit how we eat and cook now.

This week I’m tackling the Tomato Okra Pilau for no other reason than I saw okra at the farmers market the other week and just had to have it.

sliced okra

The version in the book looks like this.

tomato okra pilau charleston receipts

One thing I love about these vintage recipes is the short ingredient list. They didn’t futz around with 20 ingredients in a dish usually. But for some reason this recipe requires two cooking pots. Well, why bother with that? We’re modern, we’re lazy, and we like one pot meals! So I’ve updated this to be both vegetarian, a one potter, and a little more robust on the vegetables. Feel free to sub the oil for bacon grease if you like.

tomato okra pilau charleston receipts

Tomato Okra Pilau

Adapted from Charleston Receipts


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (sub for bacon grease if you want)
  • 1 small onion diced, or 1/2 of a medium one
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes or 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups okra, sliced in the round
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup white rice (or Carolina Gold if you want to be more authentic/fancy)
  • Smoked sea salt (optional to replace the smokiness of the bacon)
  • Black pepper to taste


  1. Use a reliable non stick or stainless steel pan. Heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Saute onions until brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and okra, stir all of the vegetables together well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add rice and stock. Stir again to make sure everything is mixed well.
  6. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t open the lid for a peek, it lets out valuable steam that cooks the rice!
  7. Remove from heat and use a plastic or wooden spoon to get any sticky rice bits from the bottom of the pan. Salt to taste and serve hot.

tomato okra pilau charleston receipts

And with that, we’ve got a vegetable-ful meal that uses up a ton of okra and tomatoes, which if you have a home garden in the South, is probably bursting with both of those things right about now. Bonus: only one pot to wash!

Fun fact: the first time I ever cooked with okra was five years ago, making beer quinoa battered okra. Man, it’s hard to believe our kitchen counters were that yellow for nearly seven years after we moved in.