Good okra recipes aren’t always easy to find. Okra can be such a finicky vegetable and the number of appetizing ways to prepare it are slim. Fried okra is delicious, and pickled okra is perfectly fine, but our new favorite way to eat okra is Roasted Okra. Easy to make and even more delicious to eat, Crispy Roasted Okra turns this slimy veggie into the potato chip of the garden. You can’t eat just one!
In the world of vegetables, there isn’t much that I don’t like. I can think of only a handful that I absolutely, under no circumstances, will not eat (and even then I can be convinced to give it another shot). Turnips and turnip greens, kale (or any of the mustard greens), and radishes are about the only ones I can think of that I will not be piling on my plate. There are more vegetables in the “I only eat them if you cook them right” category. Eggplant, beets, cucumbers and, most certainly, okra.
Okra may be the most Southern of foods. As a matter of fact, it can be hard to find in other parts of the country. But here in Tennessee, it tends to be as prolific as a couple of rabbits. One or two plants can easily feed a family of four right up until the first frost. The species loves heat so much that when everything else in the garden is wilting in the sun, okra plants kick in to high gear requiring the gardener to pick once or twice a day.
No Slime Okra
Okra slime is called mucilage and can be found in certain other plants such as aloe vera. The infamous okra slime is actually a fantastic thickener which is why you’ll find it in gumbos and stews across Louisiana, the Caribbean and African cultures. Outside of stews though, okra slime can be off-putting.
The first restaurant I ever worked at served boiled okra during the summer and I can vividly remember having a hard time keeping the gelatinous vegetable on the spoon. It resembled the byproduct of seasonal allergies and not in any way appetizing to me. A few years ago, I was convinced that pickled okra was an acceptable form of consuming the prickly veggie, but fried okra has always been the gold standard…until now.
A recent trip to the farmer’s market turned up a sack of fresh okra and a suggestion to roast the veggie until crisp with promises that it was delicious. So, we took the farmer up on her suggestion and was blown away at just how good it is.
Crispy Roasted okra is my new favorite vegetable. It’s crisp and savory without all of the sliminess. It also can handle the smokiness of many Indian and African spices like cumin and paprika. Make a big batch for your next dinner. It’s sure to be the star of the show.
Tips on Preparing Okra for Roasting
- Wash the okra before you slice it. And you might want to wear gloves. Some people are a little sensitive to okra in its raw form.
- Cut the tops off before cooking. The stem end can be pretty tough.
- Choose small okra. Anything over a couple of inches will generally be tough and stringy
- For this recipe, slice the larger okra lengthwise. Any really tiny ones can be kept whole.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stem of the okra a cut lengthwise down the middle. Place the okra in a bowl with the olive oil. In a small bowl combine the seasonings and sprinkle half of the spice mix over the okra. Toss the okra to coat in oil and spices and then spread out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the okra is tender and crispy.