Quite possibly the most popular okra side dish of them all, fried okra is a fantastic way to introduce the veggie to the cautious customer. Crispy, addictive, and thankfully simple, fried okra is a low-key treat. When preparing, try slicing your okra into thinner segments to ensure that each bite is nice and crispy.
- Pro Tip: Season your batter with garlic or chili powder for a rounder flavor profile.
Chicken, Okra, and Andouille Gumbo
Gumbo and okra are so interlinked that many historians believe that the name “gumbo” actually derives from an old African word for Okra. Interestingly enough, okra serves a higher purpose than simply seasoning this dish; when cooked, okra gives off a slimy liquid that is used to thicken the overall dish. To make a good gumbo even greater, we like to make a smoky roux and toss in cajun chicken and andouille sausage to bring a little heat to the mix.
Corn and Okra Maque Choux
A beloved dish from the French Quarter and beyond, maque choux is a perfect example of Creole cooking. The colorful dish is spicy, savory, and deceptively simple all at once. Essentially a single pot vegetable medley topped with andouille sausage or grilled shrimp, maque chox can be prepared quickly and consistently. The strength of this dish lies in the quality of the vegetables, so we’d recommend showcasing it during the late summer when okra is at its absolute best.
- Pro Tip: Interested in more New Orleans favorites? Check out our favorite dishes and cocktails from the Big Easy.
Pickling is the little cooking method that could. Straightforward and flexible, pickling expands way beyond little cucumbers. We like to switch things around a bit by pickling fresh okra and adding them to sandwiches and meat-forward mains. Don’t stick with just a standard pickle recipe though; try adding in diced poblano peppers to imbue your pickles with a powerful punch.
Although okra is a well-regarded addition to stews, its soup-side is ignored far too often. We’d like to ease some of that pain. Due to its mild, grassy flavor, okra is a great way to add texture and color to a soup without distracting from heavy-hitter ingredients. It also has a battle-hardened working relationship with common soup ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and garlic, so it can be tailored to many different soups. To start, we’d recommend giving it a chance to shine by making it the main ingredient in a simple vegetable soup. For best results, allot plenty of time for the soup to simmer so your okra gets tantalizingly tender.
Is there anything more comforting than freshly baked cornbread? Okra is a surprising compatriot to whole grain cornbread, as the baking process knocks out any of the “sliminess” associated with the veggie and adds a greater level of texture to the final product. This dish is great when you want to let your culinary colors shine; we’ve seen chefs throw onions, peppers, and even pepper jack cheese into their okra cornbread.
- Pro Tip: Compliment the savory flavors with a sweet apple butter!