Eating homegrown okra

Leafing through a seed catalogue is one of life’s great pleasures. Burpless cucumbers (with almost no warts) compete for your attention against yellow tomatoes, purple carrots and popcorn maize. No matter how hard you try to be practical, and only buy what you like to eat, occasional “impulse-buys” slip their way into your order. This summer I couldn’t resist the urge to buy okra seeds.

Okra is a star-shaped green vegetable that is famous for its slightly gluey texture which allows it to be used as a thickener. It features in Mediterranean cooking as well as gumbo and curries.

As seedlings, okra plants look similar to beans, but don’t be misled. The plants have big leaves, and grow up to be as tall as sunflowers. They bear fruit at almost every leaf junction, following beautiful yellow flowers that are reminiscent of hibiscus.

Don’t be put off by the idea of okra being gluey, because you can reduce that tendency by picking the okra while they are still young. The seeds are smaller at the early stages too. Diced okra that has been well fried isn’t really gluey at all.

Okra with tomatoes and eggplant make a pleasant sauce to serve with pasta. The recipe below uses a combination of summer crops, which you may have growing together, or that are cheap and plentiful at your greengrocer at the same time of year. Since this is a vegetarian dish, it’s nice to add chickpeas for protein, and serve it sprinkled with fetta.

Okra with eggplant and tomatoes
tomato paste

1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent. Next, add the sliced okra and fry until it begins to brown.

2. Add the other vegetables, eggplant, tomatoes and chickpeas. Also add the tomato paste and basil. Cook until vegetables have softened.

3. Serve over pasta, and sprinkle with fetta cheese.

19 thoughts on “Eating homegrown okra

  1. Delicious! I love okra, especially stewed in curries or stuffed with fish paste and fried. Your tomato harvest looks fantastic too by the way.

  2. Great to see a post, has been a little while :-) I love okra too, especially fried with some spices. I never knew what pretty plants they were. It may be an optical illusion, but yours seem to be quite large while I am used to seeing more finger-shaped ones.

  3. Am so glad you posted those pictures of okra growing. I love the stuff, but have never actually seen it on the plant. And had no idea it was so very pretty. We had okra this week in our vegetable box, which made me very happy. Am hoping we get lots more in the weeks to come.

  4. Your garden shots are beautiful, and make me a little forlorn at my little patch (although my seedlings survived our crazy hail, and my rocket has sprouted, hooray!). I have only just recently started cooking with okra and I’m loving it, bet it’s even better when seasoned with the success of home gardening ;)

  5. It’s all well and good when it’s short, but I could only just reach the last one. The thing is getting stupidly tall, I’ll either have to continue harvesting with a ladder, or pull the thing out!

  6. Love seeing updates on your garden. Okras like you said, are great in curry. My Mum does put it in the occasional stir fry but I prefer stews, curries and even how you ate it. Oh and welcome back to posting, was wondering where you went!

  7. Pingback: Spaghetti Vegetable « Hoglet K

  8. Your garden is amazing! How great to have all those fresh vegetables. I rarely bought okra because the stuff in the shops was always too mature and picked too long ago. Wish I had a garden :)

  9. Wow – your garden is so amazingly productive. Those okra look so big & healthy. And that dish is one of my favourite Lebanese stews. Yum!

  10. Love how okra pods point skywards like that. I’m planting okra this summer too. Let’s hope they aren’t as suicidal as they were two years ago.

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