Okra is a staple in Southern cooking, but this warm weather vegetable can be grown all over the United States. Its popularity is growing, and for good reason. Full of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, thiamine and vitamin B-6, one cup of this nutritional powerhouse has almost 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber while being low in fat and calories, according to Medical News Today. All this goodness may help reduce the risk of health issues like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
So, what you are waiting for? Grab some okra and roast it, pickle it, stew it, or even bake it into cookies with one of these recipes.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes – Fresh picked okra is cooked with canned tomatoes — although you could certainly use fresh tomatoes — plus a few other veggies and bacon. It’s a side dish that goes with almost any meal.
Okra Fritters – Turn okra into a vegetarian main dish by mixing it with polenta and calabash squash, or whatever squash you have on hand. These fritters can be served on top of greens with a hard-boiled egg or served on their own with the sides of your choice.
Make sure to add okra, at left, to your list of foods to preserve this summer. (Photo: Steve Legato/Food in Jars)
Pickled Okra – This recipe is from small-batch canning expert Marisa McClellan’s first book, “Food in Jars.” These pickles take only 45 minutes to make from start to finish (including clean-up). The recipe makes four 1-pint jars of pickled goodness. After you’ve eaten your pickled okra, don’t throw out the pickle juice. You can flavor potato salad, egg salad, coleslaw and pasta salad with leftover pickle juice or use it in a pickle back shot: whiskey followed by pickle juice.
Roasted Okra, Peppers and Vidalia – Easy and very healthy, these veggies are sliced and mixed with garlic and oil, then roasted until caramelized, bringing out their natural sweetness. You don’t even have to seed the okra to make this. The seeds add a toasty nuttiness to the whole dish.
Kurkuri Bhindi (Low Calorie Crispy Okra Fry) – Kurkuri Bhindi is a traditional Indian dish that is usually fried. This recipes skips the inches of oil and opts to bake the spice-covered okra in the oven instead. A coating of gram and rice flours helps to keep them crispy. Eat them fresh out of the oven. They lose their crispiness if they sit out too long.
Battered and fried is the classic way to serve this summer vegetable. (Photo: Brent Hofaker/Shutterstock)
Fried Okra with Creamy Buttermilk Dip – Sometimes, you just have to go with the classic way to prepare okra and fry it. There’s a reason fried okra is so popular: It’s delicious. This recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse. The okra is coated in a buttermilk/cornmeal batter and deep fried. When eating, you can dunk them in a creamy buttermilk dip that can be made a day in advance.
Okra Oatmeal Cookies – Okra in a cookie? Sure, why not. The okra gets pulverized before being added to the rest of the cookie ingredients. These soft and airy cookies are hearty, sweet and have a kick of flavor from fennel and ginger.