Eat Okra: 6 Recipes That Enlist the Low-Cal, Late-Summer Veggie

Okra, a green, low-calorie, nutritious vegetable, is at its best from July through September because it thrives in hot weather. Though it is especially popular in the South, veggie lovers from all over the country can still enjoy the summer harvest. If you haven’t yet gotten your hands on in-season okra, you should do it now, and do it fast.

One cup of okra yields just 30 calories, and it is rich in other nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Though consumers are sometimes skeptical of the vegetable’s unique texture and exterior, its seemingly slimy composition becomes firmer when roasted, and there is a host of ways to enjoy the delicious and nutritious green vegetable.

Should you be interested in trying your hand at the late-summer veggie but unsure of which route to take, follow one of these recipes for an okra dish that is destined to impress. While okra tastes great simply roasted, it also stars in a number of sophisticated dishes, and there’s no time like the present to experiment.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Spicy Oven-Roasted Okra

We’ll start you off with this easy Spicy Oven-Roasted Okra recipe from The Fitchen. All you need for this recipe is okra, along with some flour and spices. Cast your okra anxiety aside and make this dish before it’s too late.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound okra, stems removed and sliced into halves
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup millet flour

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and prepare okra and jalapeños as directed above. In a large bowl, combine chili powder, chipotle pepper, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and millet flour. Add okra and jalapenos and toss until coated with seasoning. Place on parchment-lined pan and bake for 17 to 20 minutes.

Source: iStock

2. Fried Pecan Okra

If you want to go the Southern route and fry up your veggies like this Fried Pecan Okra recipe from Southern Living suggests, you have that option, too. This recipe calls for frozen okra rather than the fresh variety, but the produce you find at your local farm stand should work, too. The pecans and peanut oil are the non-negotiables for this soul-satisfying dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1½ cups all-purpose baking mix
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen whole okra, thawed
  • Peanut oil

Directions: Place pecans in an even layer in a shallow pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Process pecans, baking mix, and next two ingredients in a food processor until pecans are finely ground. Place pecan mixture in a large bowl. Add okra, tossing to coat. Gently press pecan mixture into okra. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet; heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry okra in batches, turning once, 5 to 6 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels.

Source: iStock

3. Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers

Stepping things up a notch, we move on to these Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers from Cooking Light. If you’re feeling squeamish about eating okra on its own, turn on the grill and serve them with fresh tomatoes while they’re still in season. These sophisticated skewers are the perfect finger food to bring to your last late-summer bash, and they’re sure to impress.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 24 okra pods (about ¾ pound), trimmed
  • 16 cherry tomatoes (about ½ pound)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Cooking spray

Directions: Prepare grill. Divide each onion wedge into two equal pieces. Thread 3 okra pods, 2 cherry tomatoes, and 2 onion pieces alternately onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Combine olive oil, kosher salt, and the remaining ingredients, except for cooking spray, in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Brush olive oil mixture over the skewers. Place the skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill skewers for 3 minutes on each side or until tender.

Source: iStock

4. Roasted Potatoes and Okra Salad

Here’s another way to eat your okra: serve it in a salad. The green veggie pairs perfectly with roasted white potatoes and the other fresh ingredients in this recipe from Erin’s Food Files. Okra is the perfect ingredient to kick any regular salad up a notch, and thanks to its vitamins and minerals, it also amps up the nutritional profile.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds small potatoes, such as fingerling, red, or yellow-fleshed
  • 1 large bunch scallions, halved lengthwise and roughly chopped
  • 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs, plus ½ teaspoon chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ pound small (2- to 3-inch) okra, heads removed
  • 1 cup fresh corn (1 to 2 ears)
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

Directions: To roast potatoes and okra, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve potatoes lengthwise and toss with scallion pieces, rosemary sprigs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Spread potato mixture in a large roasting pan and roast, stirring once, for 20 minutes. Stir potatoes and add okra to pan, tossing to coat. Continue to roast until okra and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes more.

For corn, cook in 1 quart of salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

To make dressing and assemble salad, whisk together lemon juice, shallot, chopped rosemary, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until combined. Discard rosemary sprigs, then add hot potatoes and okra to dressing along with beans, corn, and salt, to taste, tossing to combine. Serve hot or warm.

Source: iStock

5. Charleston Okra Soup

If you’re already craving soul-satisfying soup, try this Charleston Okra Soup from Food Republic. Though it’s seemingly old-fashioned, this is the kind of dish that never goes out of style. There’s no doubt that it’s all about the beef shank with this soup, but the okra is a star ingredient, as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds beef shank, cut into ¾-inch cubs, marrow bone reserved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound okra, trimmed, cut on the bias into ½-inch-thick ovals
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions: Season the beef and marrow bone with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Put in a shallow dish, covered, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, and when it shimmers, brown the beef and marrow bone in batches, if necessary, taking care not to crowd the pan; add oil by teaspoonfuls if the pan becomes too dry.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the browned beef and bone to a bowl and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, paprika and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Cook, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan and adding a teaspoon of water or oil if the pan becomes dry, until the onion softens, about 6 minutes; you don’t want the onion itself to char. Add 1 quart of water and the tomatoes, return the beef and marrow bone to the pan, and cover. When the soup simmers gently, uncover and reduce the heat to low.

Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is just tender, about 1 hour. Add the okra and continue cooking until the okra is just tender, about 25 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Divide among bowls, garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve.

Source: iStock

6. Okra Chili

Last but not least is this Okra Chili from the Cooking Channel. ‘Tis almost the season for chili, and why not grab your okra and make the leap? Instead of whipping up your tried-and-true meaty chili recipe this fall, try this fresh recipe that is as nutritious as it is delicious.

Ingredients:

Chili spice

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle

Okra chili

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer, divided
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1½ cups fresh okra, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ bunch fresh cilantro, stems chopped and leaves picked
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: For the spice mix, in a small bowl, mix to combine the ground cumin seeds, garlic powder, paprika, chile flakes, and ground coriander seeds.

For the chili, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture has evaporated, and the beef is browned. Drain the beef of any fat that has rendered and deglaze the pan with half of the beer. In a separate pot, add the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil and add the onion, garlic, peppers, and okra; sauté over medium-high heat. Sprinkle over the chili spice mix and the chipotle pepper, stirring to combine.

Deglaze the pot with the remaining beer and add the browned beef. Add the diced tomatoes and stock, and then bring everything to a boil. Place the lid over the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. After 1 hour, add in the kidney beans and cilantro stems. Keep cooking for another 30 minutes over low heat. Adjust the chili’s seasonings with salt and black pepper, to taste. Switch off the heat and garnish with cilantro leaves.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: