Preview: This Simple Baked Okra recipe will be right up your alley if you prefer most of your vegetables roasted as I do. These delectable morsels may not be overly photogenic, but I bet you can’t stop eating them!
Do you have plans for the Fourth of July? I don’t have a menu yet, but I’m pretty sure this Simple Baked Okra will be on it.
At my house, we eat okra in gumbo and occasionally, a fresh vegetable stir-fry. Of course, fried okra at a restaurant is a terrific treat, but who wants to break out the deep fryer at home unless it’s a very special occasion? (For me, that means one of my beloved sons is requesting fried okra for his birthday dinner.)
Now that we’re smashing and baking okra, I’ve been eating it every week (or want to). Ugly green/brown roasted okra is positively addicting.
A recipe in The Southern Vegetable Book for Smashed Fried Okra inspired me to try smashing the okra before roasting. Alternatively, you could slice them in half (too time-consuming), or stick to the smallest okra pods in the bin (sometimes there are none).
Why smash the okra?
Pound fresh okra with a meat mallet or the back of a spoon (more challenging), starting from the stem end, progressing to the pointy end. Smashing will shorten the baking time. Splitting the pods open creates more surface area and crispiness.
How to avoid a mess when smashing okra:
Put whole okra inside a closed zippered bag and pound away. The bag keeps the okra from slipping away and contains wayward seeds.
What condiments to serve with simple oven-baked okra:
We enjoy dipping our baked okra in ranch dressing, and I bet you will, too. The wasabi mayonnaise from Epicurious is also fabulous.
What if I don’t want to turn on the oven?
Grill them instead. They will be just as good and you won’t heat up the kitchen.
Furthermore, the grill is faster than the oven but keep an eye on them. Even though they may look a little burned in the picture below, they are just perfect. The darkest places have the best flavor!
Two secrets to know about this recipe:
- Be ready to eat these crispy sticks of okra as soon as they come out of the oven or off the grill. The “crispy” doesn’t last long. Consider serving them as an appetizer.
- When selecting okra, try to avoid the pods longer than three inches. They can be tough and stringy. I prefer to buy them out of a bin, not pre-packaged, where overly mature okra is easy to hide.
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Hope to see you again soon!
p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.