It’s a polarizing veggie.
Crusted in cornmeal and fried, most people are hard pressed to find anything wrong with it. I mean, it’s fried and, seriously, what’s NOT good fried.Remove the coating, however, and you either love it or hate it.
Cut up and stewed – as in gumbo or any other soup with okra in it - it takes on a viscous quality that can be described in one disgusting word (unless you’re a adolescent boy, then it’s a lovely word) and I would definitely be on the “hate” end of the spectrum if you try to serve me okra this way.
Pickled, it’s crunchy and wonderful, but there’s only so much pickled food you can eat in one sitting.
Regardless of where you are on the okra spectrum, it’s one of the few vegetables that can endure the intense Texas heat.
Crunchy, roasted okra is the way I learned to appreciate okra when it wasn’t pickled after I first started going to farmers markets and wanted to support the farmers in the hot days of August.
Not one to fry anything other than in an inch of oil at the most, I never have made traditional fried okra.
Several years ago, however, I ran across a recipe for oven roasted okra with curry spices and a tomato and onion topping. I have since honed it to my own tastes and now make this at least once a summer.
It is crunchy, definitely not viscous, and with the tart and crunchy pico, it’s a deeply satisfying and balanced side for grilled anything but especially good with blackened fish or chicken.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut okra in half lengthwise
- Then cut each half into thirds.
- Toss on a parchment covered baking sheet with olive oil, salt and taco seasoning.
- Separate okra pieces to make a single layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until okra has shrunken considerably and is starting to brown.
- Mix Cucumber Pico ingredients together and season with salt. Set aside.
- Using a large spatula, flip sections of the okra until all has been turned over then brown the other side of okra.
- Remove from oven when all the okra is crunchy and brown.
- Serve with pico.
Christi Flaherty is a private chef and creator of Tablavie, a website dedicated to a lifestyle of eating real food and living simply. Visit Tablavie.com and sign up in the box on the right that says “email address” and click subscribe button.