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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Easy-easier-easiest: Okra

Please don't change the channel just because you *think* you don't like okra!  I studiously avoided it for a long time, but finally caved to household pressure (ie my husband) and made oven-fried okra once...I am now hooked!  It is not slimy when cooked (although it is slimy while cutting, to be completely truthful).  Okra season (NOW) makes a welcome break from the mid-summer zucchini-fest as well. 

Now for the hard-sell...Okra is low calorie when prepared plainly as in the grilled recipe below, high in vitamins K, A, and C and as well as folic acid and fiber, and is one of the most antioxidant-dense green veggies out there. 

We grow our own okra now as it's not always easy to find fresh okra at the store. Frozen is OK for most purposes, but fresh is best. If you happen to have an abundance of fresh okra, slice it and freeze it in 1-2 cup amounts (clumped up is fine) to use in stews and gumbos.

How can you not give it a go? Especially when even my veggie-avoidant 16 month old just asked very politely, using signs, for more okra? Come on people...

Easiest: Grilled Okra
4 servings

24 4-5" okra pods (about 1 lb.)
8 6" bamboo skewers
1 medium tomato, or 1/2 cup tomato juice
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Cajun seasoning, curry powder, Italian seasoning or salt/pepper (try this combo)

Skewer okra pods with bamboo skewers placed 1/2" apart (see picture).  Chop tomato and garlic finely or puree in a blender.  Mix in oil and seasoning.  Pour tomato mixture over skewered okra and marinate at least one hour or up to overnight.  Grill over high heat about 5 minutes per side.

Easier: Sesame Pan-fried Okra "Chips"
4 servings

2 cups thin-sliced okra (fresh is best, thawed frozen slices are OK), about 3/4 lb.
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
oil for frying
seasoning salt to taste

Combine cornstarch, flour and sesame seeds in a ziptop bag.  Add sliced okra and shake to coat thoroughly.  Heat 1/4" of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Shake excess flour off of okra slices.  Add okra in a single layer, stirring after 2-3 minutes to cook both sides.  Cook another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown all over.  Drain on paper towels and season to taste with seasoning salt. 

Easy: Oven-fried Okra
4 servings

1 lb. okra, sliced (frozen is fine)
2 eggs, beaten + 2 tbsp water + salt and pepper (try a pinch of this)
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

Prehat oven to 450F.  Dredge okra in egg then breadcrumbs.  Put on a rack placed on top of a baking sheet.  Cook 5-7 minutes until lightly browned.  Pin It

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