Okra, (Abelmoschus esculentus), herbaceous hairy annual plant of the mallow family (Malvaceae). It is native to the tropics of the Eastern Hemisphere and is widely cultivated or naturalized in the tropics and subtropics of the Western Hemisphere for its edible fruit. The leaves are heart-shaped and three- to five-lobed. The flowers are yellow with a crimson centre. The fruit or pod, hairy at the base, is a tapering 10-angled capsule, 10–25 cm (4–10 inches) in length (except in the dwarf varieties), that contains numerous oval dark-coloured seeds. Only the tender unripe fruit is eaten. It may be prepared like asparagus, sauteed, or pickled, and it is also an ingredient in various stews and in the gumbos of the southern United States; the large amount of mucilage (gelatinous substance) it contains makes it useful as a thickener for broths and soups. The fruit is grown on a large scale in the vicinity of Istanbul. In some countries the seeds are used as a substitute for coffee. The leaves and immature fruit long have been popular in the East for use in poultices to relieve pain.
Health Benefits of Okra: A powerhouse of valuable nutrients, okra provides numerous health benefits. Known as a high-antioxidant food, okra may support improvement in cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, digestive diseases, and even some cancers. Okra is also abundant in several vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, vitamin B6, folic acid, riboflavin/vitamin B2, zinc and dietary fiber.
ORANGE BALSAMIC ROASTED OKRA
- 1 lb. okra, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Zest from 1 naval orange and juice from ½ the orange (about ¼ cup)
- 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
- For garnish, orange slices and fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Toss the okra with the olive oil and sea salt and spread them out on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the okra for 25 minutes.
- While the okra is roasting, prepare the glaze. In a small frying pan over high heat add the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic. Bring it to a boil and let it boil rapidly, whisking occasionally, until it has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. If it reduces a little too much, just add another splash of orange juice or water.
- Once the okra is nicely browned remove it from the oven and toss it with the orange glaze. Serve the okra with orange slices and a little fresh cracked pepper.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Okra Salad
- 1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3/4? cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 pounds orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 5 ounces spinach, large stems discarded, leaves rinsed (8 cups packed)
- 1 pound small okra, thawed if frozen
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons drained and chopped capers
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the red potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread them in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Bake the potatoes in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until they'e lightly browned and just tender. Let cool.
- On each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets, toss half of the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes in an even layer and season with salt and pepper. Bake the potatoes on the upper and lower racks of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and just tender; switch the sheets halfway through for even cooking. Let the sweet potatoes cool.
- In a large skillet, toast the mustard seeds over moderately high heat until they start popping, about 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl. Add the rinsed spinach leaves—they will still be wet—to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted. Transfer the spinach to a colander to cool. Lightly squeeze the spinach dry and then coarsely chop.
- Wipe out the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the okra, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning a few times, until the okra is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- In a very large bowl, mix the vinegar with the capers and the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Add the red potatoes, sweet potatoes, mustard seeds, spinach and okra and toss well to coat. Transfer the salad to a platter and serve.
farmer’s market fritters
- 2 cups yellow squash, shredded or chopped very finely
- 1 cup okra, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup buttermilk*
- 1 egg
- canola or coconut oil for frying
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be thick.
- Heat a large skillet to medium heat pour just enough canola or coconut oil in the skillet to cover the bottom.
- Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the fritter mixture into the skillet. Lightly pat the batter flat with the back of your scoop to flatten the mixture just a bit.
- Cook fritters 2-3 minutes until golden on each side.
- Serve immediately with ranch dipping sauce is preferred.
- *If you sub regular milk start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed since it is thiner than buttermilk you will get a runny batter if you substitute it equally.