This is probably not the first vegetable you think to grab at the grocery store or farmer’s market.
Before this week, it wasn’t at the top of my list either.
In fact, I’d never bought it or cooked with it before, so all of us are in for a learning experience this week 🙂
I write for another blog (Hometown Harvest), and depending on the week, my friend Kaitlyn who works for them will send me challenges for seasonal ingredients to use.
“Can you make anything with…eggplant?”
(I was less than thrilled, considering eggplant was, at the time, my least favorite vegetable.)
“I’ll see what I can do!” I replied.
The best part of getting requests like that is having to think beyond what’s familiar to me and do something I encourage other people to do all the time…try new foods (even ones we’ve sworn we despise!).
So, on another creative culinary journey I went. It turns out that I actually don’t mind eggplant, as long as it’s prepared certain ways.
Eggplant fries = the recipe that got me to like eggplant! Check it out here.
My challenge vegetable this week?
Prior to cooking okra for the first time this week, I knew two things about it:
1) It’s my dad’s least favorite vegetable, and
2) Stone Mill Bakery uses it in their ridiculously awesome vegetable soup (which, although a bit overpriced, is worth the splurge if you’re looking for a delicious lunch in Baltimore).
I can’t say I was super pumped about this one, considering how little I knew about how to prepare okra.
So, to Pinterest I went in search of a tasty way to cook up this less than popular veg…and ways to make it not slimy, since that was a common complaint among people trying to cook with it.
I also wanted to learn more about okra’s healthy claims to fame.
When I find out just how good something is for my body, I tend to be a lot more excited to try it!
Check out this blurb about all of the health benefits of okra from another blogger, Nourished & Grounded:
Okra is FULL of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, A, K, Folate, Niacin, Thiamin, B6, magnesium, manganese, carotene, as well as lutein and zeazanthin [crucial for eye health]. It contains polysaccharides that improve blood circulation. It contains numerous antioxidants such as epicatechin, catechin, rutin, procyanidin B1 and B2 and quercetin which help the body prevent damage from oxidative stress and environmental factors. And what about that gooey liquid that gives it such a bad wrap? Surprise, that’s the best part! The gel-like fiber (mucilage) soothes and coats the intestines, and a healthy gut is crucial for overall health. This is the same stuff found in aloe vera and it’s SUPER healing.
My favorite way to make just about any other vegetable is to roast it, so that’s what I did with okra. Prep time is under 5 minutes, and these little okra bites will be ready in about 20 minutes!
Even after I tried them and approved of their crunchy texture, mild flavor, and pleasant “pop” from the edible seeds, I wasn’t 100% sure my husband would like them.
To my surprise (and satisfaction!) he did 🙂
That makes these crispy little bites wife-tested and hubby-approved.
Crispy Baked Okra Bites: 2 Ways
- 1/2 pound okra, chopped into 1/2 inch discs (about 18 pods) – cut off the top and bottom stems
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
**You can use any combination of spices you like on these. They taste great with just salt and pepper if you want to keep it simple, or try one of my favorite variations below:
Garlic Version: Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
Smokra Version: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (also called “smoked sweet paprika” – This spice is AWESOME on everything from roasted veggies to soups to popcorn. Add it to your grocery list!).
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Toss okra with coconut oil and spices and spread out in a single layer on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the bites are browned and crispy. Cook longer to crisp them up even more!
- Serve immediately.