Okra polarizes. Some love it, serving it up in all forms: pickled, roasted, stewed, grilled, and fried. But I'm pretty sure even those 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.

Keith's Recipe Breakdown

Variation: Charred Okra with TomatoesHands-on: 15 min. Total: 15 min.

A serrated peeler works like magic to peel plum tomatoes, sparing you the hassle of blanching and shocking in ice water to get the skins off.

Follow These Steps:

• Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add okra in a single layer; cook, without stirring, 3 minutes or until charred. Stir. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until lightly charred. Add tomato, sugar, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until tomatoes start to break down.

• Remove pan from heat; stir in butter and remaining ingredients.

Use ½ cup peeled, julienned tomatillo instead of plum tomato. Swap 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano for the thyme, and substitute 1 teaspoon grated lime rind for lemon rind.

SERVES 4 (serving size: ½ cup)CALORIES 92; FAT 6.7g (sat 2.4g, mono 3.5g, poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 2g; CARB 8g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 8mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 271mg; CALC 58mg

NOW AN AWARD WINNER!Keith's first Cooking Light cookbook, Mad Delicious, is a 2015 James Beard Foundation Book Award winner for Focus on Health.