Okra, Love It? or Love to Hate It?

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Okra is either one of those vegetables that you love or you simply love to hate. Known for its scrubby texture when overcooked, okra is actually crunchy, crisp, and absolutely delicious when handled properly. Here are some unique and traditional okra recipes for ways to incorporate more of this warm-weather veggie into your healthy diet.

Tomato Okra Bake

1/2 cup fresh lima beans

8 ounces fresh okra, washed, stemmed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings

1/2 of a medium yellow or green sweet pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1/4- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook lima beans according to package directions. Drain. In a 2-quart casserole, combine lima beans, okra, tomatoes, onion, sweet pepper, crushed red pepper, and salt.

Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes; stir. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes more; stir. Serve with a slotted spoon.


Serves 6, each (2/3 cup) serving contains:  Calories 55, Fat 0 g, Carbohydrates 12 g, Fiber 3 G, Sodium 112 mg, Protein 3 g.

Okra Jalapeno Skillet Salsa

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup fresh yellow corn kernels (about 2 ears)

1 pound okra, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup bottled pickled jalapeño pepper slices

3/4 cup chopped tomato (about 1 medium)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn; sauté 3 minutes. Add okra; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and jalapeño; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chopped tomato and remaining ingredients.

Serves 8, each serving contains:  Calories 64, Fat 2.5 g, Protein 2.6 g, Carbohydrate 10 g,

Fiber 2.7 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 110 mg, Calcium 54 mg.

Hot and Sour Okra Pickles

2 pounds okra, left whole (about 12 cups)

6 whole habanero peppers

3 cups distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar

3 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil in a large pot. Add half of the okra, cover, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the okra to the ice water to cool. Repeat with the remaining okra.

Drain the cooled okra and divide among 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids. Add 1 habanero to each jar.

Combine vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the rim, covering the okra completely. (Discard any leftover brine.)

Place the lids on the jars (or containers). Refrigerate for at least 1 week before serving.

Yields 6 pint jars, each 1/4-cup serving contains: Calories 8, Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 2 g, Protein 1 g, Fiber 1 g, Sodium 54 mg, Potassium 76 mg.

Okra Creole

3 bacon slices

2 cups fresh sliced okra

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup fresh corn kernels

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Hot cooked rice (optional)

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Cook okra and next 6 ingredients in hot drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve over rice, if desired. Serves 4.

Pickled Okra and Shrimp Salad

1 (3-oz.) package boil-in-bag shrimp-and-crab boil

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (3 1/40 count)

1/2 cup sliced sweet-hot pickled okra

1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons minced red onion

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large avocados, sliced

Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan; add crab boil, and cook 5 minutes. Add shrimp; cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Drain and cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine pickled okra, diced pimiento, and next 6 ingredients. Add shrimp, and serve immediately with avocado slices, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Serves 6.

Smashed Fried Okra

1 pound fresh okra

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 cups fine yellow cornmeal

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil

Use a meat mallet to smash okra, starting at tip of pod and working toward stem end. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry okra, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve. Serves 4-6.

Okra and Red Pepper Cornbread

2 tablespoons corn oil

2 cups fine yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup very thinly sliced okra

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups buttermilk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 450°F. Add oil to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or 2-quart metal baking dish) and place in the preheating oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk cornmeal, baking soda and salt in a large, heatproof bowl. Add okra, onion and bell pepper and toss to coat. Whisk buttermilk and egg in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Carefully remove the heated skillet (or pan) from the oven and pour the hot oil into the batter. Stir to combine, then pour the batter back into the hot pan. Bake until starting to brown around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into 12 slices and serve warm.

Serves 12, each serving contains: Calories 123. Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 17 mg, Carbohydrates 19 g, Protein 4 g, Fiber 2 g, Sodium 356 mg, Potassium 167 mg.

Written By

Photo of Tammy Kelly, Ed. DTammy Kelly, Ed. DCounty Extension Director (252) 527-2191 (Office) tammy_kelly@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Jul 26, 2016
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