Okra

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Okra, Love it? Or Love to Hate it?

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.

Besides interesting taste and texture, okra is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are responsible for the health benefits the plant has to offer. Here are some of okra’s health benefits:

  • Helps Prevent Diabetes,
  • Okra Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy,
  • Aids with Kidney Disease,
  • Supports Colon Health,
  • Aids with Respiratory Issues like Asthma, and
  • Promotes Healthy Skin.

If you are in the Kinston area on August 7, 2021, come to the Lenoir County Farmers Market at 9 a.m. Seraphim Smith, Chef and Artist, and Scot Elden from Upstairs at the Market and Downstairs too, Kinston, NC, and Judy are going to be cooking up some delicious samples of this amazing Southern vegetable – okra. The first-ever “OkraFest” in Lenoir County. It will be a real treat, this is the community extension of the Seraphim Smith okra mural. Be sure to come for a visit and taste.

Here are some unique and traditional okra recipes for ways to incorporate more of this warm-weather veggie into your healthy diet.

Oven-Fried Okra

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

Preheat oven to 450ºF. 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 450ºF 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

Okra Creole

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
  2. 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.

Indian Stir-Fried Okra

(This recipe makes one serving so, adjust accordingly, keto friendly)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups fresh okra
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander powder (optional, I am not a fan so I leave this out)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the okra, and dry. Remove tips and stems, and cut into small rounds.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in the pan and add the okra, season with salt, cover, and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and cook until desired doneness, some prefer it soft.

Okra and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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

Hot and Sour Okra Pickles

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Bring the 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the rim, covering the okra completely. (Discard any leftover brine.)
  5. 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 and Red Pepper Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.