What can I say? I remember the slippery, overcooked, bitter and vile vegetable from my youth. It put me off anything green pretty much through my junior year in college.
But the pointy little lady fingers from the mallow family seem to be enjoying a resurgence and I wanted to find out why.
It turns out they’re high in soluble and insoluble fiber, several B vitamins and vitamin K. But okra is also known for producing mucilage that rivals the monster in Stranger Things. What can I do to create a great dish, minus the slime?
Ben and I hit the Madras Groceries in Sunnyvale over the weekend and on a whim I picked up about a pound of firm seedpods. Back home I looked at recipes but was uninspired by the thought of breading and frying. When I found a recipe in Zahav that called for roasting the okra I thought, “Now you’re talking.” And then I proceeded to take the best part of that recipe and make the rest up.
The thing is, my oven is pretty much used as a storage space for various cast iron pots and pans. I really didn’t feel like making the sacrifice of hauling everything out of the oven for a vegetable I was probably going to hate anyway. Instead, I used my griddle. And did this:
Pre-heat the griddle to 400 degrees
Wash and dry the okra
Top and tail
Massage a light coat of olive oil over each pod
Place on griddle in a single layer…turn occasionally until the sides are brown
Plate and sprinkle with a little sea salt and thyme
I cooked the okra with whole sweet red peppers (I loved the colors). They could be served hot right off the griddle – they tasted fantastic – but I think I’m going to serve them for dinner tonight, cold with a vegan garlic and lemon aioli. They’ll be part of a salad that includes torn kale and those beautiful heirloom tomatoes, sliced and drizzled with a little light dressing.
What can I say? The entire dish took at most twenty minutes, and it is delicious. The texture had a bite – I could have kept them on the griddle even longer for a crunch – and there was no slime.The taste is simple and clean, earthy and mild. When I serve the okra tonight the acid from the garlic lemon aioli will offer the perfect balance.
Full disclosure. I’m not a cook. I just like food. And every now and again I like to challenge myself with a new taste. This was just so simple to prepare I challenge you to take a leap of faith and see for yourself.