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STORING: Store fresh okra in the refrigerator and use within a day or two. Beyond that they begin to lose their freshness, flavor, and nutrients.
PREPARING: Wash the okra in cold water and dry thoroughly. If you plan to cook them whole, no further preparation is necessary. Keeping the okra whole prevents the mucilage from oozing out. If you plan to use them sliced, slice off the stem end, and cur the okra crosswise into short segments.
RAW: Thinly slice crosswise and add to a bowl of salad greens with your favorite dressing. Or combine with your favorite chopped vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet onions, avocado, cashews and cucumbers.
Thinly slice okra and marinate for two or three days in a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh lime juice, finely diced red or green chiles, and seasonings. Use as a condiment.
SAUTEEING: Slice washed okra and saute until tender in oil along with onions, garlic, and ginger. Season to taste.
BRAISING: Okra can be combined in a stew or “gumbo” along with your favorite vegetables, legumes or grains, onions, and tomatoes. Season with spices and cook covered on top of the stove until the legumes or grains are cooked through.
SOUPMAKING: Add okra to your favorite vegetable soup ingredients and enjoy its ability to thicken the soup naturally. Puree if desired or enjoy the soup with texture of bite-sized vegetables.
GRILLING: Make a dressing with oil, salt, pepper and spices. Gently mix it with whole okra until all pods are coated. Throw on a hot grill until browned, about 2-4 minutes per side.
I luckily have come to consider okra’s gumminess a virtue rather than a curse. But if its gumminess puts you off, here are more ideas contributed by several of our members (thank you members!):
1. Always process the okra in a totally dry environment: the pods must be completely dry before processing, as must be your cutting knife if you elect to cut the pods.
2. Use whole okra instead of cut okra. Just trim off the end without puncturing the pods.
3. If your recipe calls for cut okra, pre-process the okra by spreading the cut okra on a plate covered with a paper towel. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Then cook according to your recipe.
4. Don’t overcook it, and only stir it very gently during cooking (rough handling releases the gumminess).
5. Stir-fry or grill it.
6. Make a lengthwise slit in the pods and steam for 5 minutes or until tender. Stuff pods with seasoning of your choice.
If you have anti-gummy tips of your own, please e-mail them to us. We’ll pass them on. Thanks!