1. Fry it. My family eats fried okra like popcorn! Slice the pods of okra (or leave them whole for a different look!), dredge them in a mixture of self-rising flour, corn meal, salt & pepper, then drop them into hot grease. Once they're golden brown, remove them from the grease and sprinkle with seasoned salt. If I have extra okra, I cut and dredge them, then lay all the pieces on a cookie sheet, and put the pan in the freezer. Once frozen, the pieces go into a freezer bag, and they're ready to go anytime we have a craving for fried okra between now and next summer!
2. Pickle it. If you've never heard of pickled okra, you must not be from the South! I never really cared for it until I was grown, but my children could eat a jar apiece, if I let them! Pickling okra is really very simple. Just pack as many pods in a jar as possible, add a hot pepper, garlic cloves, and dill seed. Cover with boiling vinegar
3. Roast it. If you want to go a healthier route, roast it! I love this option because it is simple and delicious, while making little mess! Wash and cut your okra, discarding the ends. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake on 425 degrees for 35-50 minutes. The longer you bake it, the crispier it gets! Be sure to give it a stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
4. Okra and Tomatoes. You can serve it with grilled chicken, a perfectly cooked steak or a pork chop. No matter what you choose, okra and tomatoes over rice will be the perfect addition to your summer meals. I start by frying up a few slices of bacon. When those are crispy, set them aside and save for later. Remove the excess grease from your pan so that you are left with a couple tablespoons. You are going to saute onion, okra, and tomatoes in the grease along with some seasoning. When the veggies are tender you spoon them over rice and top with crumbled bacon. I mean, can you really go wrong when bacon is involved?
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5. Peas with Okra. Toss a few whole pods of okra in a pot of peas for an extra Southern touch! One of my favorite meals my Mama served was cubed steak with gravy, rice and tomatoes, peas with okra, and her lacy cornbread!
These are just a few of our favorite ways to serve okra. We'd love to hear your suggestions! How do you cook and serve okra?
Looking for even more great ideas for your summer veggies? Check out Southern Vegetables by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart.