Okra, Learn to Love It

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Okra, Learn to love It

Tell someone to try okra in a recipe and you either get a resounding ewww or yummm! Okra is one of those foods you either love or hate. Certainly the easiest way to learn to love okra is to try it fried..maybe not the healthiest but certainly tasty. If your first taste of okra was the boiled slimy version you may have been left afraid for a second chance. But okra is one of the least difficult summer vegetables to grow and also believe it or not versatile!

Try fresh okra in some of these healthy okra recipes. Hope you will learn to enjoy!

Oven Fried Okra

(I may have shared this one before but always a good reminder)

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dash of ground red pepper

1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 pound fresh okra pods, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450º. Combine cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and red pepper in a shallow dish; set aside. Combine buttermilk and egg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add okra; toss to coat. Let stand 3 minutes. Dredge okra in cornmeal mixture. Place okra on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat okra with cooking spray. Bake at 450º for 40 minutes, stirring once. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 144, Fat 0.7g, Protein 4.5g, Carbohydrate 29.3g, Fiber 2.6g, Cholesterol 27mg, Sodium 204mg

Spicy Pickled Okra

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon white peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 fresh dill sprigs

2 green or red jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise

1 1/2 pounds small okra pods

Combine vinegar and the next 7 ingredients (through cumin seeds) in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar and salt dissolve, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in fresh dill sprigs, jalapeños, and okra pods. Cool completely; pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover and chill. Refrigerate okra in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Yields 5 cups, each ¼ cup serving contains; Calories 28, Fat 0.0g, Protein 0.7g,

Carbohydrate 6.8g, Fiber 1.1g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 103mg

Okra and Sausage Gumbo

12 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage links, removed from casings

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chopped tomatoes

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 1/2 cups frozen chopped okra

3/4 cup instant brown rice

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced (optional)

Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl lined with paper towels. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add oil. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the flour browns, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to release their juices, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, cover, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Return the sausage to the pan, along with okra and rice; reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the okra is heated through and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with sliced scallions, if using.

Serves 8, each serving contains: Per serving: Calories 168, Fat 6g, Cholesterol 25mg, Carbohydrates 16g, Protein 11g, Fiber 3g, Sodium 631mg

Okra Rellenos

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese with peppers (or choose String Cheese, little fewer calories)

1 pound fresh okra (4-inch-long pods)

1 cup self-rising flour

1/3 cup self-rising cornmeal

1 large egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup dark beer

Corn oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut Monterey Jack cheese into 3- x 1/4- x 1/4-inch sticks. Cut a lengthwise slit in each okra pod, cutting to but not through ends; push seeds aside. Stuff pods with cheese sticks, and set aside. Combine flour and cornmeal in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

Stir together egg, buttermilk, and beer; add to dry ingredients, stirring until smooth.

Pour oil to depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°. Dip stuffed okra in batter, coating well; fry, a few at a time, in hot oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt; serve immediately with salsa.

Yields 2 dozen