Okra Win Free

Poor, poor pitiful okra. It's not the most popular vegetable in the market. Actually, it probably doesn't even make anyone's list of top 10 favorite vegetables, possibly because of the slime factor?

Most people will only eat okra when it's coated in cornmeal and deep fried, which merely diminishes its true beauty (and vitamins; it is a "powerhouse of valuable nutrients"). Oh, yes, let's not forget that okra plays a major role in gumbo, and then there's another southern favorite, pickled okra.

So there you have it...not many ways or reasons to love okra.

Hailing from Africa, okra thrives in warm environments which is the reason it has been prolific in the farmers markets around San Antonio for the last few months. And I avoid it like the plague.

A few weeks ago, I came home with a bag of okra that a farmer gifted me. How could I possibly say "no thank you" to a thoughtful and generous man who was being nice? I came home and stuck the bag in the fridge not knowing what to do with it and waited until it turned nasty so I could throw it away. This is the truth, although I am embarrassed to admit it.

But Saturday night changed things for me and okra. I think we have found a new love for each other, much thanks to my friend, Julia, who inspired me last week by posting a picture of the roasted okra she made for dinner on my Cowgirl Granola Facebook page.

Julia's roasted okra

She subsequently emailed me the recipe and I was smitten.

Roasted okra. Why didn't I think of that?? I l-o-v-e roasted vegetables of any kind...why not okra, too?

So when I saw these amazingly magnificent, freshly picked okra at Saturday's New Braunfels Farm to Market, I pounced. There was not a brown or discolored spot on them. They were picture perfect and I had to have them!

I realize that okra is a forgotten step-child in the world of vegetables, but it is only because few people know that it can be roasted, where the slime factor is almost nil and the yummy factor is off the charts!

Now is the right time to give okra another chance. I promise you won't be disappointed.

And the next time my farmer friend gifts me a bag of okra, I look forward to saying "thank you" and meaning it.

Buen provecho!

Roasted Okra with Tomatoes, Onion, Garlic and Mint
The Cowgirl Gourmet (http://www.thecowgirlgourmet.blogspot.com/) adapted this recipe from Julia Rosenfeld who got it from Scott Peacock

Print recipe

1/2 pound fresh okra
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic, germ removed and sliced
1 cup cherry or heirloom tomatoes (cherries can be halved and any other tomato should be cut into 1 1/2 " chunks)
1/4 cup fresh mint
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the okra in cold water and drain well. Trim the stems from the okra tops but do not remove the caps entirely. Slice the okra lengthwise and place in a mixing bowl.

Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes and mint. Drizzle olive oil over and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix and transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet or oiled pan.

Place baking sheet in a preheated oven and roast for 10-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness and texture. (I cooked mine for a little more than 20 minutes, because I like caramelizing my veggies.)

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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