Poor, poor pitiful okra. It’s not the most popular vegetable in the market. Actually, it probably doesn’t even make anyone’s top 25 favorite vegetables. Perhaps it is the slime factor?
Most people will only eat okra when it is coated in cornmeal and deep fried, which merely diminishes its true beauty (and vitamins; it is a “powerhouse of valuable nutrients“). Okra also plays a starring role in gumbo and then there’s the southern favorite pickled okra.
So, there you have it…not too many ways or reasons to love okra.
Hailing from Africa, okra thrives in warm environments which is the reason is has been prolific in the farmers markets around San Antonio for the last few months. And I avoid this vegetable like the plague.
A few weeks ago, I came home with a bag of okra that a farmer gifted me. How could I possibly say “no, thank you” to a thoughtful and generous man who was being generous and kind? I came home and stuck the bag in the fridge not knowing what to do with it and waited until it turned nasty so I could throw it away. Although I am embarrassed to admit this, it is the truth.
But Saturday night changed things for me and okra. I think we have found a new love for each other, much thanks to my friend, Julia, who inspired me to rethink my relationship with okra when she posted a picture of the roasted okra she made for dinner on my Cowgirl Gourmet Facebook page.
When I received the recipe from Julia, I was entranced. Roasted okra. Why didn’t I think of that? I love roasted vegetables of any kind, so why not okra, too?
When I saw these amazingly magnificent and freshly picked okra at Saturday’s farmers market, I pounced. There was not a brown or discolored spot on them. They were perfect and I knew okra and I could win this one.
I realize that okra is a forgotten step-child in the world of vegetables, but it is only because few people know it can be roasted to perfection, where the slime factor is nil and the crispy and yummy factor is off the charts.
So, if like me, your relationship with okra has been questionable, now is the right time to give okra another chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And the next time my farmer friend gifts me a bag of okra, I look forward to saying “thank you” and meaning it.
Roasted Okra with Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic and Mint
Forget the days of slimy okra, friends. This recipe removes all of that and the result is crispy, caramelized and flavorful okra unlike you have ever had before. Once you roast okra, you'll never prepare it any other way.
- 1/2 pound fresh okra
- 1/2 cup sliced red onion
- 2 cloves garlic germ removed and sliced
- 1 cup cherry or heirloom tomatoes cherries can be halved and any other tomato should be cut into 1 1/2 " chunks
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the okra in cold water and drain well. Trim the stems from the okra tops but do not remove the caps entirely. Slice the okra lengthwise and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes and mint. Drizzle olive oil over and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix and transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet or oiled pan.
Place baking sheet in a preheated oven and roast for 10-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness and texture. (I cooked mine for a little more than 20 minutes, because I like caramelizing my veggies.)
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.