Wild About Okra by Fran Pigott-Harding

Growing up, okra was served often by my Mother.  It was either fried or boiled.  I was not a fan of either – especially boiled.   These days, okra is one of my favorite veggies.  Moving back to the area about 5 years ago, I gave okra a try again!  My approach to cooking veggies had changed over the years!  I like to roast everything!  So, I gave okra a try.  Outstanding.   Okra is also delicious pickled, stir fried, an ingredient in soup (gumbo) or eaten raw.  What I love is roasted okra.  Roasted alone or with other vegetables.   Okra is now in season.  I’m delighted. I will be visiting farms like Underground Farm & Leaning Center (Beaufort), JW Merrell Farm (Beaufort) and Garner Farms (Newport) as well as farm markets like the Olde Beaufort Farmers Market (Beaufort).  I expect to serve the vegetable often this summer. I serve it for myself as well as my friends.  I buy it for friends and family.  I teach them about roasting.  I let them know about okra’s nutritional value.   The nutritional value of okra is worth knowing. Raw okra is 90% water, 2% protein, 7% carbohydrates and negligible in fat. A rich source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, folates and vitamins A, B, C and K, it also contains manganese, magnesium, iron and calcium. Okra contains no cholesterol and is low in fat. What’s more, Okra has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin A of any vegetable. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin. It’s available in two varieties, green and red. Red okra carries the same flavor as the more popular green okra and differs only in color. When cooked, the red okra pods turn green. My recipe for roasting on the grill or in the oven is simple:  In the oven, set thermostat at 450 degrees.  Brush the washed okra with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Should be ready in about 20 - 25 minutes.    For the grill, same approach.  May take a little longer depending on the fire.  A pan for roasting on the grill works best.   Enjoy!

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