meatless mondays
please pass that okra!

Oh how I'd hated okra.

Mom loved it. Dad loved it. Aunts, uncles, grandparents all loved it.

I hated it. Hated it.

And there it was. In my garden. Flourishing so beautifully. Out-performing almost every other vegetable in the field.

Nature is cruel.

So I picked it and pickled it and canned it—copious jars of a favorite of so many, creole stewed okra with tomatoes. My husband ate it. My Dad ate it. My friends ate it, and more than a few customers ate it.  I saved it for all of them. I was still not a fan.

Oh, I mean I ate it, occasionally.  If I had a big hunk of glorious cornbread, I was willing to share it with a dot of the stewed okra, and that was pretty darned good. The seasoning was pretty lively. But still, that okra. 

I realized I was not practicing what I preached. Eating seasonally, sustainably  economically—well it was going to entail me eating the very crop that, these last weeks, was growing most abundantly in this warm, dry, Texas climate.

I needed to eat more okra.

Now, in all fairness to okra, I wasn't all too fond of many other vegetables, save for what I ate in a big bowlful of salad, for many years, either. I'd prepare fresh vegetables for my family, but, shamefully, left all but an exemplary bite from my own plate. But documentary after documentary, book after book, article after article, and, yes, even a doctor or two convinced me that adding more plant life to my diet was the way to go. So, out here we came, to raise our own. Organically-grown, nurtured, watered, those vegetables started to spring up, and I learned how to eat them.  Not fried. Not boiled to death. Not slathered in creamy sauces, much. I learned to eat all those vegetables I disdained….roasted!

So there! The answer to my dilemma! I roasted okra!

And I liked it!

In fact, I LOVED it. I ate whole meals of it. Even without cornbread!

So, just in case you've struggled with the little green pods just as I, or, perhaps, you're wanting to find a healthy, or quick, or easy, or simple preparation, just as I, I'm passing on my I'll-never-eat-okra-okay-maybe-just-a-little-please-pass-the-okra! remedy—

  • 1# fresh okra, pods around 3", washed and dried well, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise (I keep the shorter ones whole)
  • ¼ cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1T garam masala
  • About ¼ c olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
Preheat oven to 450°

Combine cornmeal and garam masala spice blend. 

Toss prepared okra pods in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat. Toss, again, with cornmeal spice mixture. Layer a seasoned cast iron skillet, silicone pad-lined or silicone spray-coated baking sheet with okra in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven about 30-40 minutes, turning once half-way, or until crisp. Correct seasonings.

*Note about that okra. There are several varieties of okra, and each has it's size tolerance for woodiness. I've found that 3" is a good measure of each for remaining tender. Anything larger has proven to be an utter and total fail for this dish, and most others. Okra lovers everywhere know this. Don't let anyone sell you the big stuff. We feed that to the goats. And even goats have their fill. 

And while we're on that subject...anyone who tells you that goats will eat anything? Well they'll be the ones who try to sell you big okra. Goats are very picky.

  • 1 bulb roasted garlic (see below)
  • 2 cored, seeded, halved sweet red peppers
  • a handful of cocktail-sized tomatoes, halved
  • 4T olive oil
  • 2T butter
  • 1T malt vinegar
  • 2t smoked paprika
  • 1T brown sugar

Slice top part of bulb of garlic revealing tops of cloves. Wrap bulb, drizzled with olive oil, in aluminum foil, and roast in preheated 450° oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, roast peppers and tomatoes in a seasoned cast iron skillet in a preheated 450° oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.

When garlic is cooled enough to handle, squeeze whole bulb to remove roasted cloves, which will be much like a thick paste, into a small saucepan. Add roasted peppers and tomatoes, and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  

With an immersion blender,  puree contents of pan until smooth.  (Alternatively, cool ingredients, and puree in blender or food processor.) Adjust malt vinegar and sugar to taste.

Now….please pass that okra!


  1. I share your ambivalence about okra, and if I hadn't had a good long break from it while living in Northern California, I might never have tried it again. But, when we moved back to Texas, with our summer CSA boxes came lots and lots of okra. My trick was grilling it, and it was delicious! I think it has to come out much the same way as roasting, but I will definitely have to give this a try, too, once we are swimming in it again. I may even plant some next summer!

    1. I think grilling would be excellent, too, and I'm looking forward to hauling out the grill this weekend and giving it a go. Thanks so much for dropping by, Lauren!

  2. I've struggled with okra too. So far, I use it mostly to thicken up sauces, so one little pod at a time. Time to get my roast on!

    1. I do love all things Creole, but their affinity for okra was lost on me, sadly. Now, I'm excited to see all the little pods coming into the kitchen! Big ones? Still no. Goats get those.
      Thanks for dropping by sista!

  3. Of course okra is the only vegetable that's still holding on in our pathetic little garden too and I just couldn't figure out what to do with it. Can't wait to try this!

    1. Don't let these farmer duds fool you, it's almost all we've got, too, save for the indestructible collards, kale, and chard. And, oh yeah, 4 peppers, 2 eggplants, and a handful of tomatoes. Let us know how it goes! And you know what? If garam masala isn't you're thing, you could use any kinds of herbs and seasonings you like. Thanks for dropping in, Margi!


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