I’d heard about but have never tried okra until about 12 years ago. They way I cooked it, it came out slimy. I was not impressed. Flash forward 5 years, when I tried it again and had the same result. Flash back to a year ago, when a friend told me he liked to toss it with olive oil and grill it. I tried it once (in the oven; I didn’t have access to a grill). I thought it was okay, but not great. In retrospect I now know that I had overcooked it, judging by the cooking time required for a recipe I recently tried.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a bag of farm fresh okra from a farmers’ market near my house. I followed the recipe for Oven-Roasted Okra from Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking in a Gluten-Free Kitchen by Julie Sullivan Mayfield and Charles Mayfield (Victory Belt Publishing, 2011). There recipe combined okra with one of my favorite spices: ground cumin.
What’s in okra? It’s a good source of betacarotene, folica acid, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It also contains riboflavin, pyridoxine, calcium, zinc, and compounds that help sooth the digestive tract and promote the growth of friendly intestinal flora.
If you have it, I suggest using avocado oil in place of olive oil because it has a higher smoke point, which means it can take more heat without being damaged.
I have taken to using avocado oil in many recipes, particularly those that require baking or roasting above 350˚F. Virgin avocado oil can be safely heated to as high as 480˚F and unrefined avocado oil is safe up to 520˚F, although it is safest to minimize high heat cooking altogether. Coconut oil or ghee would also work as replacements for olive oil in this and other recipes.
I really enjoyed the recipe and plan to make it again. A single batch made four servings. I found that the leftovers reheated well in the toaster oven. If you’ve never been a fan of okra, don’t be shy, give it a try.
Prep: 5 minutes Cooking: 8 to 12 minutes Yield: 4 servings
Spiced oven-roasted okra doesn’t have the slimy texture that can give this vegetable a bad reputation. I cut the oil and back by 50% and usig a formula I normally follow for roasting vegetables: 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of vegetables (weight before washing and trimming), 2 tablespoons fat or oil, 2 teaspoons dried herbs (I used more for their recipe), and 2 generous pinches of sea salt and of pepper. This recipe is definitely one I want to repeat. It would be great for entertaining, served as an appetizer or side dish.
Note: If you aren’t sure your family or dining companions will be as wild about cumin as you are, you might want to make the recipe with half as much as the recipe calls for. Then increase it the next time if you and they like.
1 pound (450 g) okra (whole), washed
¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil (avocado oil also works well); I used half as much oil as the recipe called for
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper