If there’s anything that cements my southern food roots it’s my love for okra. I love okra any kind of way: in soup, stew, steamed whole or cut up, sautéed, fried and especially roasted! Though fried okra is delicious and the most common way you’ll find it in the south, roasting allows the okra flavor to shine. This way you also get the health benefits without added fat and calories.
As polarizing as it may be, this fuzzy green vegetable has a lot to offer. Okra is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of magnesium, folate and soluble fiber – the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol and the risk for heart disease.
If you’re still not feeling okra, there’s more. Okra does double duty in the kitchen. It provides a unique flavor and effortlessly thickens soups and stews. “The slime” that so many people hate is what gives okra its thickening power. If that part bothers you, there is a way to get around it. Don’t overcook it.
In this recipe, I pair okra with tomatoes – a classic combination that’s best enjoyed in the summer.
Okra is in season when it’s hot in the south, from May to October. When all of the peaches, blueberries and sweet corn are done for the year, okra is still going strong.
Okra and tomatoes is a match made in heaven. If that’s not your thing, try it with corn, peppers, onions or a bit of lemon or vinegar for extra flavor. If you’ve sworn off okra… give it one more chance with my recipe for easy roasted okra and tomato salad.
Roasted Okra & Tomato Salad
- 1 pound fresh whole okra
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Wash and dry the okra and tomatoes.
- Place the vegetables on a baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between each piece. Drizzle with olive oil. Roll the vegetables around for even distribution.
- Sprinkle on the salt and pepper to taste.
- Roast the okra and tomatoes for 15 minutes, turning once.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy as a warm snack or side dish.
Using fresh, good quality okra is the key to the success of this recipe. I’ve had the best results getting the okra from my farmers market and cooking it within 1 day. Select smaller pods with bright green color. These are the most tender and flavorful. Avoid the larger pods which tend to be tough and woody. For extra flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning before roasting. Choose a blend without salt.