Produce Pick: Okra!

http://greenlitebites.com/2008/09/02/okra/
okra

Doesn’t that word just just ask for an exclamation point? ;~)

Also known as Lady’s Fingers, these interesting little vegetables are totally new to me. We never had them growing up, I don’t EVER remember seeing them in the grocery store and honestly, I’m not sure I even knew they existed until I started watching the food network.

Okra

So when I saw them at focal Farm’s stand I hand to grab them for a produce pick. Boy am I glad i did! It’s a great “bulk-er” weighing in at only 31 calories a cup (100g), no fat and 3g of fiber. According to Nutrition Data, it’s also a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. Plus it thickens! How cool is that, a low cal, non-starchy vegetable that thickens?!

I know I can’t be the only that waited this long to try this fascinating vegetable but I also know there are a lot of people who grew up eating it. So I’m asking those that know to inform those of us that don’t. I’d love to hear how you prepare this produce pick!

Me? Well I experimented and came up with, Mexican Inspired Okra Orzo Stew. I LOVED it and will definitely be buying this interesting vegetable again. It was so easy to use yet added a whole new dimension to my dish. At least it was new for me. The only weird thing was the stickyness while cutting but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Note: I don’t know what I was thinking, but I didn’t pull out the camera, so I would like to thank House of Sims for the FABULOUS photo!

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26 Comments and 0 Replies

  1. Christie

    I am from Georgia so I grew up eating okra. It’s really common around here. One of the most popular dishes is fried okra — kinda defeats the healthy purpose when you batter it (in a cornmeal type batter) and deep fry it in oil.

    It’s also good for soups/stews for bulking and thickening. We always had it in our vegetable soup as a child. It’s pretty famous for being part of the thickener of gumbo (I’ve never made gumbo though).

    We also like to eat it as a side dish with stewed okra and stewed tomatoes. My family usually served this with rice to really soak up the tomato juice.

  2. cj

    I grew up in Oklahoma and we always had fried okra. Yummy. Actually that’s the only way I ever remember eating it. I picked some from my grandparent’s garden this past weekend and I’m looking for some alternatives to the frying method.

    I’m interested in the idea of tossing it in some soup.

  3. KC

    I’m also from the South and it’s very common here. I have always eaten it either in a soup (vegetable soup, gumbo, etc), as fried okra, or as okra and tomatoes, which is one of my favorites. However, the restaurant okra and tomatoes is usually made with bacon drippings which definately increases the fat content of an otherwise healthy dish. I’ve tried to make it without the bacon but it just doesn’t taste good and I usually end up making it into veg soup. So, Roni, if you’re up for a new challenge you should try to make an old southern classic healthy!

  4. karen

    Okra One of my favorites….
    Looked out at my garden a week ago there was a mommy doe and her fawn enjoying my okra. I let them have it. We planted it “out” side the electric fenced garden.
    next year it will be in side the fence!
    A friend has been sharing her okra.
    yes the fried is very good.
    sence I do Weight Watchers the stewed with tomatoes.
    Some time eat it over a lo cal. sandwich bun with lo fat butter.
    If you come up with a new idea will try
    IF OKRA GETS TO BIG AND TOUGH (DRY IT) CRAFT PAINT A SANTA FACE!

  5. Alisha

    Again….as a southern girl, I eat it as a okra, tomato and onion dish….GREAT FOR WW. Just cut up the okra and dice up an onion, throw in a big can of stewed tomatos and some salt and pepper and let simmer for about an hour. This makes a great option for frozen leftovers that I can pull out for lunches. I also like it sauteed with slices of bacon, about 1 slice per 2 c. of raw okra. Saute this with 1 tsp of olive oil and some diced onion….great family side dish. Hope this helps Roni.

  6. Megan

    As a Southerner, I love fried okra! Perhaps you could try cooking okra using your “oven fried” method to make this classic dish a little healthier. Also, a big Amen to the above comments about cooking it with stewed tomatoes and putting it in soups and gumbo.

  7. superbizmom

    I don’t care for okra and have tried it many different ways. My husband, however, loves okra. So when I got some in my CSA box last week, I washed it, cut it up, and placed it in a bag with whole wheat bread crumbs and crushed fiber cereal. I put it in a nonstick pan, lightly sprayed with olive oil. He loved it! Much healthier than the fried okra he grew up with!

  8. Tabitha

    Like all the others on here from the South, I have only had fried okra. . .it is DELICIOUS. . .but not very healthy lol Maybe you could “healthify” or “defatten” this dish for us, Roni? ;o)
    I’m from Oklahoma too, CJ! BOOMER SOONER!

  9. Allyson

    Now, I’m glad that you’ve found okra, because you can eat my share of it! :) I grew up in Alabama, and my stepmom cooked okra a lot, but I just couldn’t eat the stuff. I think it’s a texture thing with me. I always felt it was slimy. ICK! LOL

  10. Bessie

    We love pickled okra at our house in Alabama. We usually buy it in the grocery store by the pickles. We have thought of trying to pickle our own, but haven’t had the chance to find a good recipe.

    I like it boiled with just a little salt. I love the slimyness and the little beads rolling around on my tongue!

    It’s also great in veg soup, gumbo and jumbalaya (sp?) as mentioned above.

  11. Kelley

    Okay! Fried okra is the best thing in the WORLD! Can someone come up with an idea for how to bake it instead of fry it? Someone said earlier that it’s the cornmeal batter – my mom used to simply throw a couple of eggs on top of the cut up okra, then throw on some regular flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Mix it up and fry it. My mouth is watering people….

  12. Robin

    take the cap off…scrape it out….fill it with reduced fat cream cheese , seasoned with some spices of your choice…I like red pepper flakes , and chili powder , also green onions are good mixed in. Then , roll them in egg substitute (southwestern style) then in some japenese bread crumbs or crushed cereal …..spray with butter flavor cooking spray….and bake………..yum!!!!! Kinda like a jalapeno popper.

  13. mstoddard

    I am from the south, north LA. and south AR. We, also boil the very small pods of okra. A fork should easily pierce the pod. Spray with zero fat butter substitute or a small pad of butter. Mix well.

    We also boil, do not remove cap, until barely tender, drain, then flatten. Roll in crushed fiber one, spray lightly with Pam. Bake until crisp.

    Our grown daughter still requests okra and tomatoes when she comes for a visit. I saute, on low heat, the okra in a little olive oil until no strings are visible. Add chopped onions until slightly brown, add diced fresh tomatoes and their juice. Cook until juice has reduced by about one half. Bacon grease really adds to the flavor, Salt and pepper to taste.

    To use in soup cut okra ino rounds. Saute in a small amount of oil until there are no syrings coming from the okra. This step will prevent the soup from being slimmy
    looking.

    I don’t put okra in my gumbo. To okra or not to okra is usually the cook’s choice in the south.

    Sorry this is long. I wanted to share some tried and true ways with okra.

    I have some recipes for the vegetable pear, chayote-squash, mirliton when you find them again.

  14. Ashley

    I too am just starting to like okra. I grew up in the south, but my parents are from the north so we never had it home – I only occasionally had it at friends houses, but never liked it becasue of the slimy texture.

    This year I got it in my CSA box and was determined to come up with a way to eat it. I found that grilling it on my Panini press dried up all the slime, but brought out the great flavour. Then you just drizzle it with a little EVOO and a little salt and pepper – makes a fantastic side dish. The other way I like it is a variation on fried okra – coat with breadcrums and some seasoning – whatever blend you like – and bake in the oven – this was you get the breading with out the calories of deep frying.

  15. April

    I saw okra at the farmers market last weekend, and considered getting it. But I’ve never had it and had no idea what to do with it. Now I have some good ideas, thanks everyone!

  16. Shannon in MS

    I’m with the other southerners who fry, boil and use it in soups and stews. So, nothing new to add here.

    Just one question: What’s a CSA box?

  17. sarah

    best thing ever is okra! I grew up growing it in my parents garden and eating it at almost every meal. It is very good pickeled! The best way is okra gumbo, as i have always known it. Fresh okra sauted in evoo or butter for a min or two and then dump in sliced or whole cherry tomatoes and let steam with a little water or chicken broth utill it is tender. Its a little gooie but that is okra! Fried is awsome, use corn meal. It will stick easily with the okras natrual stickyness. Add spice to the corn meal, roll it in there and then lightly fry it and then bake at about 375 until done, not long.

    from a southern girl

  18. sarah

    By the way okra will always be a little slimy. I will try to find one of my grandmothers pickling recipies for everyone. If its too long there is always pickeled okra at your market or you can order it from down south, I would also reccomend pickeled garlic. It is amazing!

  19. Tina

    I LOVE OKRA! But not really the way you guys described it. I grew up in the Okeefenokee Swamp (Can’t get any more southern than that without going north again…Florida! lol!) I had never even seen it “breaded” until I had it at a resturant as an adult. What we called “fried” okra was actually plain, sliced okra “sauteed” in bacon fat. When I cook it now, I weight-watcher it down a bit…I use about 1/4 teaspoon of bacon fat in a nonstick skillet;when it melts, I use a napkin to distribute the fat and remove what’s not needed. I add my sliced okra and cook over med-hi heat until it starts to brown on the cut edges. I salt and pepper it at that point. The pod will turn a lovely dark green & begin to look a little wilted, and the seeds will turn from white to light grey and get dimples. At this point, the sticky-starchy stuff that was stringing on your spatula will have all but disappeared. Make some sweet tea & fat-free “fried” corn bread to go with it. Nothing’s better after working in your garden. Tastes like pure grandma-love. Try growing some this spring in YOUR garden, Roni! Okra flowers are GORGEOUS! If you are not used to picking them, though, be sure to wear gloves. They are kinda rough on the hands.

  20. karen

    For some reason this web site appeared a gain on in my-email.
    I think it is really old.

    BUT here is a recipe for Claudine 4/09
    4 quart of cut Okra
    8 Tablespoons vinegar ( is 1/2 cup )
    4 tablespoons salt
    cover with water bring to a boil cook 4 minutes
    untill okra turns color.
    Put in hot jars and new hot flat tops & rings.
    don’t have to pressure can. or boil bath. ( vinegar & salt will keep it)
    When you go to use might want to rinse off because of all the salt.
    Good luck….
    Karen

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