Cooking with Okra
Okra is either one of those vegetables that you love or you simply love to hate. Notorious for its viscous texture when overcooked, okra is actually crunchy, crisp, and absolutely delicious when handled properly. Use our favorite okra recipes for ways to incorporate more of this warm-weather veggie into your healthy diet.
First up is Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. To some, gumbo isn’t gumbo without okra. If you have a lot of fresh okra from your summer harvest and want to freeze some for steaming bowls of spicy gumbo during the winter, choose 3- to 4-inch pods to destem—without cutting into the seed pod—and quickly blanch, drain, and freeze whole. Slice into bite-sized pieces after defrosting slightly, and it’s ready to use in this recipe when you’re sporting sweaters.
Heirloom Tomatoes with Charred Okra, Vidalias, and Malt Mayo
"Okra doesn't have to be fried. Charring the pods is really fun—it shuts down the sliminess and gets beautifully crisp. Tomatoes just need a little salt, pure and simple," Christensen says.
Creole Shrimp and Okra
Think of this main as shrimp and grits with a distinctly Cajun attitude. Halved okra not only looks gorgeous, but it'll also give off less "slime" than chopped okra. Let the vegetables caramelize a bit in the pan for a richer base. Just need sauce for this meal? Simmer 1 pound pureed fresh tomatoes for 15 minutes. Add to pan in step 2.
Charred Okra with Tomatoes
Even folks who aren't okra fans will be swayed by this dish. The key is in the high-heat sear, which cooks off much of the mucilage that makes okra unappealingly slippery for some. A screaming-hot pan (use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet if you can) puts a delectable char on the pods, lending smoky flavor and crisp texture. With sweet-tart tomato, fragrant garlic and onion, and just enough butter to amp up flavor and lend a touch of richness, this dish becomes a crowd-pleaser that may just make an okra lover out of you.
Indian-Spiced Grilled Shrimp and Okra
Here's a fun way to cook okra; it retains some crunch and doesn't even think of getting slimy. The fresh serrano chile and curry powder offer a good bit of heat; seed the chile or omit it for a milder dish.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Grilled Okra
A sweet-tangy balsamic glaze makes this summertime appetizer irresistible. Using two skewers for the wrapped okra makes it easier to flip on the grill.
Oven-Fried Shrimp and Okra Louisiana Po'boys
We buttermilk-battered shrimp and baked it in a hot oven to golden crispiness, adding fresh okra to the mix for some extra Gulf state color. Creamy caper-spiked remoulade keeps things moist, and hot dog buns make this Cajun country treat right-sized.
This okra gets its kick from curry powder and crushed red pepper. It's hard to believe something so yummy could only contain 41 calories per serving.
Grilled Shrimp and Summer Vegetables with Buttermilk Dressing
The grill is the healthy cook’s tool of choice for low-fat, high-flavor food. With this super simple recipe, you get a full meal from the grill—shrimp, okra, corn, and tomatoes—in half an hour.
Hot and Hot Tomato Salad
This recipe is a lightened interpretation of a Southern summer staple. Use whatever varieties of colorful tomatoes you find at your local market. Cherokee purple tomatoes add unique flavor and color to the plate, if you can find them. Outside of the South, black-eyed peas are a fine sub for lady peas, and okra is a regional delicacy that's optional in this dish.
Louisiana-Style Chicken Soup
Our gumbo-style soup removes the roux step (saving as much as an hour) and instead uses aromatics sautéed with tomato paste for a toasty flavor foundation. Serve with a crusty baguette for mopping up every last delicious drop.
Spicy Pickled Okra
It's easier than you think to pickle your own okra, and pickling is a great way to make use of an abundant garden harvest. Serve these spicy and crunchy pods as a side dish or part of a relish tray. They're also an unusual garnish for a martini.
Stewed Okra with Tomatoes and Bacon
This Creole favorite makes the most of fresh produce. Stewing okra with tomatoes produces a saucy side that highlights okra's unique flavor and texture. The dish is tasty as is or ladled over white rice.
Charred Okra with Tomatillos
Fresh green tomatillos offer a tangy variation on our classic Charred Okra with Tomatoes. The high-heat sear is vital for cooking out the mucilage that makes okra unappealing and slippery for some. It also adds a delicious smoky char that heightens the flavor of the humble okra pod.
West African Beef, Plantain, and Okra Stew
While not nearly as sweet as bananas, plantains do have a sweet flavor. In this African-inspired stew, we keep that sweetness at bay by using firm plantains with green skins rather than ripe brown-skinned ones—the sugars will have not yet developed, so the fruit will add starchy body to the soup without too much sweetness.
Fried okra is a southern treat. Use your oven to produce a crisp coating without frying.
Chicken and Okra Stew
This hearty dish is something like Brunswick stew, that old-fashioned Southern favorite—only the Haitian version is certainly fierier, thanks to the habanero. If you don't like it quite so spicy, use a seeded, minced jalapeño, which is somewhat fruitier and not as powerful.
Even folks who usually don't like okra enjoy the taste and texture of this highly seasoned dish. We left the seeds in the chile for moderate spice. Serve with grilled chicken or lamb.
Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers
Assemble skewers the night before; brush them with the oil mixture before grilling. Flavor oil mixture with dried ground herbs to suit your taste. Look for okra pods of similar size to assure even grilling.
Okra, Corn, and Jalapeño Skillet Salsa
Blending prime summer produce, this salsa is great over grilled chicken or pork or with baked tortilla chips. This recipe doubles easily for a crowd.
Lemon-Macerated Okra and Olives
Try these zesty tidbits in place of peanuts or pretzels at your next party. Or combine with bread, cheese, artichokes, and cold shrimp for an antipasto platter.
Corn and Summer Vegetable Sauté
Enjoy the best of summer with this seasonal vegetable sauté. Use parsley or chives in place of cilantro, if you prefer. Garnish with chives.
Stewed Okra & Tomatoes
Okra is a Southern classic that people tend to love or hate. Here, the acidity of the tomatoes helps thin the vegetable’s viscous juices and preserves its crunchiness. Be sure to pick small pods, as they are more tender.