HUNTINGTON -- Okra is popular Southern fare, but its gummy quality makes it hard for some folks to like it. Although this vegetable has an unappealing reputation and often noted most hated, it is quite tasty and nutritious.
Also known as Ladyfingers or Gumbo, this veggie is low in calories. One cup contains 30 calories and is high in calcium, fiber, vitamins C and K, protein, folate, manganese and magnesium.
When shopping for this Southern vegetable, look for small, tender pods. Also be sure the okra is completely dry before cooking. After rinsing, they should be patted dry and left on a dish towel or placed in the sun at least 30 minutes. When cooked, it should be at a very high temperature for a short amount of time.
For gumbo, the okra should be roasted, sauted or grilled before added to the pot. When boiling, add a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice to it. Okra shouldn't be overcooked or overcrowded in the pan because the steam affects the texture. It shouldn't be seasoned until the end because salt brings out moisture.
The Southern great can be fried, stuffed, pickled, stewed, grilled or prepared in other recipes, such as these from "Taste of the South":
PECAN-FRIED OKRA WITH HORSERADISH SAUCE
11/2 cups pecans (pieces or halves)
11/2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
21/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups whole buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying
1 pound okra, washed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
Horseradish sauce (recipe follows)
In work bowl of food processor, pulse pecans until finely ground. Add next four ingredients, pulsing to combine. Transfer to shallow dish. To another shallow dish, add buttermilk. Set aside. In large Dutch oven, pour oil to depth of 4 inches. Heat over medium-heat until deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees. Working in batches, coat okra in buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge okra in pecan mixture, shaking gently to remove excess. Fry in batches, being sure not to overcrowd pan, until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Remove from oil; drain on paper towels. Serve with horseradish sauce.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
In medium bowl, combine ingredients, stirring well. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days.
GRILLED OKRA WITH SPICY SOY DIPPING SAUCE
1 pound fresh okra
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water at least 30 minutes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
Spray grill rack with nonstick, nonflammable cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Thread approximately 6 okra onto each skewer, piercing near tops. Thread second skewer through bottoms of okra. Repeat with remaining okra and skewers. Brush okra with olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Grill over direct heat until tender and grill marks form, 3-4 minutes per side. In medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, whisking well. Drizzle 2 tablespoons over grilled okra. Serve remaining sauce for dipping.
1 pound fresh okra, halved lengthwise
5 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5-6 dried chile peppers
4 cloves garlic
3 cups water
11/2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns
Place okra in colander; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt; let stand 15 minutes. Rinse okra thoroughly to remove slimy residue. In large nonreactive heatproof bowl, place okra, onion, chiles and garlic. Set aside. In large nonreactive saucepan, bring 3 cups water and vinegar to boil over high heat. Add remaining 3 teaspoons salt and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add peppercorns, stirring well. Pour hot vinegar mixture over okra. Let cool at room temperature 1 hour. Place plate on top of okra to keep submerged; refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days.
STEWED OKRA WITH CHICKEN, TOMATOES AND GARBANZO BEANS
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
11/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chopped fresh okra
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
In large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until browned, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan; set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan; cook onion and garlic over medium heat until softened, 3-4 minutes. Return chicken to pan. Add okra and tomatoes; cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. Add raisins, lemon juice, curry, sugar and salt, stirring well. Cover; cook 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred chicken into large chunks; stir in garbanzo beans; cook until heated through.
This recipe is from "Taste of Home":
SOUTHERN VEGETABLE SOUP
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 (141/2-ounce) cans vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup sliced fresh or frozen okra
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons dried savory
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
In Dutch oven, saute onion in oil 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Serve immediately or transfer to freezer containers. May be frozen up to 3 months.
Provided by "Southern Living," pickling the veggie the standard way:
21/2 pounds small fresh okra
7 small fresh green chile peppers
7 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dill seeds
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
Bring canner half-full with water to a boil; simmer. Meanwhile, place jars in large stockpot with water to cover; bring to boil; simmer. Place bands and lids in large saucepan with water to cover; bring to boil; simmer. Remove hot jars one at a time using jar lifter. Pack okra into hot jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Place pepper, garlic clove and 1 teaspoon dill seeds in each jar. Bring vinegar, salt, sugar and 4 cups water to boil over medium-high heat. Pour over okra, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Wipe jar rims; cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands. Place jars in canning rack; place in simmering water in canner. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Bring water to rolling boil; boil 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool jars in canner 5 minutes. Transfer jars to cutting board; cool 12-24 hours. Test seals of jars by pressing center of each lid. If lids do not pop, jars are properly sealed. Store in cool, dry place at room temperature up to 1 year.
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