In the heat of summer, okra shines as a green jewel. It’s one of the favorites of southern gardeners. This may be due to the fact that okra loves hot weather or because it’s tall and leggy, not taking up tons of garden space. And I imagine that the taste is also part of the appeal. I know some people complain about the okra slime, but once cooked, okra loses that particular feature.
Each year, the amount of space I devote to growing okra increases. Freezing okra to use later is an easy way to save an abundant harvest for later, so there’s no reason not to grow a raised bed full (or a few rows). Not sure when your okra is ready to picked (or which okra to choose at the farmer’s market)? Check out my post on when to harvest okra; it’s so easy!
With the summer heat that okra plants love so much, also comes my attempt to be in the kitchen as little as possible. The oven heats the house up so much, and frying takes so much effort (and clean up). And since the hubby has been honing his grilling skills over the past few years, grilled okra has become one of the easiest ways to prep this vegetable for a quick dinner. (He highly recommends Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.)
Grillied okra is not only fast and easy, but it saves on dishes to be washed. That’s always a winner in my book. And if it’s possible to grill the entire meal, even better (grilled okra goes well with just about any protein). This leaves more time for evening bike rides or games in the yard, all the things that make summer so appealing. So here’s what you’ll need to get your okra on the grill.
1 lb fresh okra, cut lengthwise
Seasoning blend of choice (or salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
- Begin by heating up the grill. While it heats up, cut the tops off of the okra pods, and slice them in half lengthwise.
- Skewer the cut okra pods onto the bamboo or metal skewers. Don’t skewer them lengthwise, or you’ll only be able to get a few per skewer. Drizzle the okra with olive oil and use a brush to ensure that the okra is well covered. Turn the skewers over and be sure the olive oil is covering both sides. Then use your favorite seasoning blend (such as Tony Chachere’s, Old Bay, or a blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder) to coat the cut side of the okra.
- Place okra on the hot grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes, then flip skewers over. You should be able to see lovely grill lines (see skewer on left). Grill for another 3-4 minutes on other side.
- Take off of the grill and serve immediately. The okra will cool down quickly, so be sure you’re ready to eat when these babies come off of the grill. For Weight Watchers participants, one serving of the grilled okra is 3 points due to the olive oil, which you could always go lighter on.
So give your kitchen some time off this summer and cook these babies on the grill. If someone else in your house is the designated griller… then you might even get a night off yourself. If you’ve never tried growing okra in your summer garden, I can’t recommend it enough. Okra is easy to freeze for later, a wonderful side dish, and even a healthy powerhouse in smoothies. It’s a winner all around.
I’d love to know your favorite way to cook or use okra. I’m always looking for new ways to use it in the kitchen. Have a great week and happy gardening!