Prep 3 mins Cook 5 mins Eat 8 mins
Okra – the perfect vegetable choice when you want food on the table…in a Flash. Have it ready in only 8 minutes. If you aren’t from the south, you probably haven’t eaten a lot of okra. It’s not something I EVER saw growing up in Minnesota. I’m not sure where my first introduction to okra was, but I do remember I did not like it. The word I remember is SLIME. It had a slimy consistency that didn’t win me over…but I may be converted.
I was given a bag of okra by Melissa’s Produce a year ago and was told I would like it if I fried it. So I thought, well most anything that is deep fried in a batter was likeable, but I didn’t quite get around to it and, sadly it ended up in my compost bin.
So when I was planning on putting a gumbo on our January Soups and Stews cooking class menu, I knew I needed to go okra-less. Nancie McDermott’s Southern Soups & Stews cookbook, that contains no less than 8 Gumbo recipes, came through for me with the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Cajun Style, which was super yummy. Get the recipe here.
Leading up to the Soups and Stews class, I was at Melissa’s Produce and I dared asked for more okra. I decided I would bring it to the class and if someone insisted, we would fry some up to add to our gumbo. While there are a zillion gumbo recipes, I met a Louisianan a couple days before our class who told me that her family uses only a few okra to add to the gumbo to thicken it, not 3 cups, like I envisioned. Interesting!
So after the class, I had the okra leftover and I was determined to like this southern vegetable. I sliced it into small pieces and looked inside at its beautiful structure of five tunnels with seeds. How can I not like something as beautiful as this healthy green vegetable?
I heated a little canola oil on high heat and added the okra. I didn’t want to deep fry it. I thought…treat the vegetable with some respect. Let’s taste what nature has given us. I knew I needed to cook it fast, so high heat would work the best.
Pretty soon the little green orbs started to caramelize on the edges and they looked pretty good. Like little glowing stars. This looked promising. I dusted them with some salt and pepper.
I served them up in a beautiful serving dish and placed them on the table with our delicious Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and we added them to our bowls. Pretty soon, my husband was asking if we had any more. Success!
Okra – you now have some respect in our house. I will no longer turn my nose up at you and welcome your freshness when I find you at the market or someone is kind enough to offer me more.