Oven roasted okra! Yeah, yeah, I can almost hear some of you, “Roasted Okra, a mighty fine snack, who are you kidding?” Well not you I guess. Maybe it’s a southern thing, okra, nothing worse in the world than boiled okra, nothing better than fried okra. I can to this day remember my mother frying okra in our kitchen. She’d drag out this ancient electric frying pan to handle the job. Plugging it into the wall socket would make the lights dim. Man, they just don’t make `um like that anymore.
Frozen okra that most restaurants dare serve cannot hold a candle in taste or texture to home-fried cornmeal crusted okra. Never will floured, batter-fried packaged okra compete with the simple old-time recipe of dusting the okra with a little cornmeal, salt and pepper.
I love it, I eat it like popcorn and as I’ve become more educated about my health and the evils of too much fried food, I’ve had to adjust my thinking and that’s hard. I grew up eating fried foods, hell, I was born and raised in Texas and everybody knows we’ll fry anything. Butter, beer, watermelon, salsa, pizza – yes pizza, how about a deep fired chocolate chip burrito or chicken-fired bacon. (Don’t kid yourself, chicken fried bacon is a bite of Heaven and, I suppose, that’s where you’d end up if you ate too much.) Of all the things Texans have fried, one of my favorites is the deep-fried French-fry coated hot dog! Man, that’s Texas, deep in the artery-clogged heart of. Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.
So what’s the solution? Slow roasted okra from the oven works for me. Roasting fresh cut okra is so close to the taste, to me, of frying, that I doubt I’ll ever fry okra again. Best part, it’s easy! No hot oil to deal with, no grease splatter mess, no cornmeal, nada. Just fresh okra, olive oil and a little salt, your significant other will be impressed.
First, hit your local farmer’s market or grocery and bag up some fresh okra. When you get ready to cook your okra, pre-heat your oven to 350 or 375 degrees, depending on your oven. Some ovens run hotter or colder than others so, until you figure out roasting okra in your own oven, be prepared to keep an eye on the process and, you’re going to want to be flexible with your cooking time in the beginning too. Some ovens will produce perfect roast okra in twenty-minutes, other I’ve seen have taken thirty or longer to achieve that crispy crunch of happiness.
Next, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. While your over is pre-heating, wash your okra under running water.
Then, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
When you’re finished, head over to the cutting board.
Top and tail your okra then dice it into bite size pieces. Keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook much quicker than fatter ones so cut longer piece from smaller okras so it all cooks evenly. On a personal note, I like my okra to char on the ends. I enjoy the charred flavor and am convinced it contributes to my love of this recipe.
After you’ve got your okra chopped, dribble in olive oil and stir to coat, then add salt to taste.
We like the taste of large grain sea-salt and frankly, think it looks nice too. Once you’ve got your okra cut and ready for the oven, pour it onto your prepared sheet pan and pop it into the oven.
If you’re new to this recipe and not sure you want your okra to be the oven-dried salty snack we love so much, take your okra out early if you want to maintain a chewier consistency.
Be sure and watch our first video, my wife who actually prepared the okra in this video calls roasted okra the Ultimate Guy Snack Food. I agree. Not because it’s healthy, although it is. I love it because it tastes great.
For the record, okra is super good for your cardiovascular health, contains no fat, cholesterol and is low in calories and high in fiber with only one gram of sugar and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Okra is also stuffed full of antioxidants and contains vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A.
Be brave, if you’re a savory loving Joe like me, you’re going to love oven-roasting okra.