Okra, the darling of the south, is frequently reviled for its tendency to taste “slimy.” However, this gift from
the south is versatile and can be grilled, fried, steamed, julienned, sliced or cooked whole.
Our, non-southern, most slime-free, favorite way to prepare okra is to roast it. First, remove the top of each pod, then cut each down its center, lengthwise. Place the okra pieces plus some halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onion, several garlic cloves and some black olives on a small sheet pan. Drizzle all with good olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Roast at 400-degrees for about 25 minutes until okra is tender.
Okra seems to have originated near Ethopia and was enjoyed by the Egyptians as early as the 12th century BCE. Some toasted and ground okra seeds using them as a coffee substitute.
For some reason okra never caught on in most of Europe, though however, it has been enjoyed for years in Greece, Africa, Turkey, South America, India and the Caribbean.
Okra is rich in vitamins K, C, A, B6, folate and fiber.
Always choose firm okra lacking blemishes or bruises. Be sure to select medium to dark-green pods with no brown or black coloring. This veggie does not have a long shelf life, so plan to serve it quickly after purchase. If holding a day, or 2, place in a paper bag and store in the warmest part of your refrigerator. Wash okra just before preparing. Trim off the toughest part of the large end. Unlike roasted okra, puncturing okra pods increases sliminess in other cooking methods.
Avoid cooking okra in copper, iron or brass pans, as it will discolor the okra.
Compatibles and “Go-Withs”
- Curry powder
- Roasted, slit vertically
- Substitute for eggplant
- Stir fry
- Raw in salad
- Sweet peppers
Below are foodsites with okra recipes.