Okra is coming in by the handful. The "Burgundy" variety okra plants are beautiful, with burgundy stems and creamy yellow flowers, and crimson-veined leaves. They make a good front-yard garden plant, if your backyard garden space has reached full capacity.
Besides the beauty, I also love okra because it is pest-resistant, a major plus in an area wracked by squash bugs and spider mites. Did I mention the drought resistance, which means that I only have to water them every four days instead of every day in the middle of this August dry spell?
Okra is also quite nutritious. It contains the antioxidant glutathione, important for the immune system and liver detoxification, and contains more fiber than cereal - 4 grams per 35 calories (about one cup). All that, and quite a lot of protein for a vegetable - 3 grams per cup! According to Jonny Bowden's "150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," calorie for calorie, "Okra is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folic acid."
But despite the beauty, nutrition and toughness of okra, many people are not familiar with this easy-to-grow-in-Oklahoma vegetable. What DOES one do with okra? Here's a short list:
- Skewer and grill them whole with Cajun seasonings (I took this to a potluck recently and people were swearing off fried okra forevermore)
- Roast sliced okra in the oven / Sun Oven
- Add to minestrone
- Use in gumbo
- Use in Indian-inspired dishes and curries
- Saute okra, pepper, and tomatoes and serve over rice
- Freeze it for use in the winter and spring
- Pickled okra
What are your favorite ways to cook okra? Ah, ah ah - fried okra doesn't count!