When I was six or seven, my mom decided it would be fun for me to begin a little backyard garden. We successfully grew berries, potatoes, greens and flowers. But when it came to our okra, we were getting really excited. They grew and grew and the day finally came with we plucked our hefty okras, fried them up and…
Ew. Something just wasn’t right. They were tough and chewy. Turns out, in this one case, Southerners, smaller is better.
So now, we just buy our okra, but make sure you look for bright, (needless to say) small pods. Cut off those ends and then slice them up longways or in slices.
Inspired by African traditions, okra has been a long Southern classic favorite. Okra is often used in gumbo, because it actually secretes a substance that thickens liquid when its cooked.
Okra is great fried of course, but also boiled, sauteed, marinated in vinaigrette to include in a salad, or even grilled. Okra is a cooling vegetable, so it pairs well with tomatoes, onion, corn, crab and other seafoods, and obviously creole spices.
Oil a baking pan, shake on a little red wine vinegar, three cloves of minced garlic, a little salt and cayenne. Add one pound of cleaned garlic (or about a bag of frozen if you want to go that way). Toss it in the oil and vinegar mixture. Cover the pan and let sit as long as you can. A few hours, or overnight, preferably.
Grill over medium-high heat for only about 5 – 6 minutes until they are lightly browned, turning halfway through. You can serve these right off the grill, or at room temperature and they’ll be just as good.
Dip in a quick mix of homemade mayo, more garlic, lemon juice, and jalapeno peppers combined in the food processor for an extra kick.