Oven Roasted Okra
Today I am sharing a quick and simple twist on traditional fried okra. My mom’s fried okra happens to be one of my most favorite things to eat in the entire world. Salty, crunchy and fried to a crisp – coated in a light cornmeal/flour coating. I am not sure “it” can get any better – “it” may get as good, but it won’t get better! (Not sure what “it” is, but that’s okay!
I tried my hand at okra last year and whether it was the weather or my inexperience – the okra crop was a flop. I selected the choicest heirloom seeds (that came with the highest reviews for my zone), I germinated them in my green house weeks before the planting season started. I nurtured them, giving the just the right amount of light & water. I planted them after threat of frost and then watched most them get eaten by slugs and squirrels. The few survivors really did nothing. I was so disappointed that I decided not to try again.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw a dozen volunteer okra plants sprouting up in my garden this year. They weren’t growing in favorable locations, amid weeds and rocks – so a carefully transplanted them into a prime real estate — my newly constructed, freshly amended, drip irrigated flower beds. All but three died. But those three are mighty, spanning 10 feet into the air, producing okra after okra proudly resetting my fears of forever being known ((in my mind)) as a failed okra farmer.
These okra are tender and over-sized, spanning up to 1½” inches in diameter and easily 6″ in length. At first, I thought only the small ones would be edible. But I had a few mammoth okra that I decided to toss into the oven along with the small ones – and the big ones were just as tender as the small ones.
So back to my mom’s okra. The other night mom and dad came over for dinner. And goes what mom brought? The fixings to fry okra with some farm stand okra she’d purchased earlier in the day. Coincidentally, I happened to be oven roasting some okra as well. I hate making a mess in the kitchen and nothing makes a better mess than frying up a bunch of food. So, I decided to avoid the mess and oven roast my okra – then mom came and fried okra, ha.
The kids quickly noticed that an unintended okra cook-off was underway. And trust me, I am all about winning a cook-off whether it’s intentional or not! The thing about making okra – you always need to double what you think you’ll need because the vultures (aka “the herd”) will pick at it until it’s literally all gone. I managed to swat them away (mid shoving the okra in my mouth) and we were left with about 2 tablespoons of each for each plate come dinnertime. I don’t know if that’s a victory or a fail, but I’ll go with a “V”!
It wasn’t long before opinions were expressed – and in mind my I was literally counting ballots. Whose okra would come out on top?! I could quickly see (to my surprise) the votes were coming in – and they were all in my favor. But Shepard Ray hadn’t spoken a word. (He was chewing and using his “best” manners – maybe?) Then – his little angel voice belted out – “well, they are both good, but mom’s are the winner”. WOW! That’s the best compliment I could have been given – my fake fried okra is better than mom’s fried okra??? That’s a shock! (Maybe being freshly picked & grown from seed had a little something to do with it?!
So let me tell you what I did – I thinly sliced 3 c of fresh okra, tossed with salt & pepper and 3 T canola oil. Then spread them out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425° until crisp and medium golden brown. DELICIOUS!
The kids have been begging for me to make more – and with a recipe this easy (and tidy) – I can happily make them several times a week.
- 3 c of fresh okra, thinly sliced
- salt & pepper to taste (1/2 t each)
- 3 T canola oil
- Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with foil* or parchment. Toss sliced okra, salt & pepper & canola oil in a bowl until the okra is evenly coated. Spread onto the pans in a single layer and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes until medium golden in color and crisp, flipping okra halfway through the cooking process.
- Serve immediately
- Serves 2
- *if using foil, spray foil with non-stick spray before topping with okra.