How to Cook Okra

One can, of course, batter and fry okra, although that isn’t the healthiest way to eat it. There is too much breading and way too much fat. If you do fry okra, use olive oil, Canola oil or some other form of “healthy” fat.

Okra also makes an excellent addition to almost any soup or stew where you use vegetables. In fact, I even find it in some of the “soup mix” frozen vegetables I use during cold months when buying every vegetable fresh gets prohibitively expensive.

During the cold months, I do buy bags of frozen okra when I just want okra. During warm months I buy it fresh at farmer’s markets since the grocery stores very seldom carry it here.

A lot of how well okra cooks depends on the size. Very small okra is great, cooks quickly and you only have to cut the ends off sometimes just the stem end if it is truly fresh and the bottom tip hasn’t darkened. Okra up to about two and a half to even three inches long is still good, but will need to be cut into smaller pieces for most cooking. It should be fairly slim. Longer, thicker okra tends to be tough, and sometimes stays tough and has “woody” chunks in it even after cooking. Fresh okra should bend easily (or be soft if it’s baby okra and too small to bend). How it feels is about how it will cut and how tender it will be after cooking.

One of the best ways to cut the slick or even “slimy” texture of cooked okra (other than breading and frying; this does it, too) is to cook it with tomatoes. The acid really tones it down. My own favorite way of cooking okra is below.

Vegetable Gumbo

I cook okra by cleaning and slicing it into small rounds, then adding 1/2″ slices of zucchini and yellow squash, plus hunks of onion, green pepper and either fresh or canned tomatoes. I usually use about the same amounts of okra and squash and tomatoes, plus the remaining ingredients in slightly lower quantities. If you like things spicy, add a jalapeno or other hot pepper or two.

Cook the gumbo over low heat until the okra and squash are tender but not mushy. Leftovers heat well in the microwave. Don’t reheat leftovers on the stove or they will overcook.

Okra provides tons of vitamins. It’s good, good, healthy food!

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