The other night I looked out the window to see my husband pruning two rows of bushy okra plants that aren’t setting fruit or growing in their usual tall habit. My current theory is stink bugs. I hate stink bugs, and I’m eager to blame for most late summer garden issues. He told me pruning okra is called “whipping” and encourages it to fruit – much like pinching flowers off tomato plants. It appears to be working and we finally have our first okra of the season in the fridge.
In the south fried okra reigns supreme, but to be honest I’m not great at frying things and in general I prefer not to eat fried food all that often. Besides, it makes a mess and who wants to deal with that when they are trying to make a quick dinner before the kids melt down?
It’s super easy to make and goes well with any late summer or early fall menu. Serve with a little salt or any of the following goodies: ground oregano and salt, garlic and soy sauce and sesame seeds (my personal favorite), a pile of thinly slice fried onions with garlic and maybe a shot of hot sauce sauce, or a dusting of your favorite spice mix – a Cajun blend is excellent on okra. I think this weekend I will try hot honey roasted okra with garlic kale on top grits. Stay tuned for a picture and recipe notes.
How to make it:
Pre-heat the oven to 450 for get crispy ends – 400 if your children believe anything brown is burned.
For four people I typically use one pound of okra. Avoid pieces that are more than 3 inches long – they will be not be as tender.
Trim the tops off the okra and cut it down the center. Toss it in a mixing bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and stir until the okra is evenly coated. Place one layer of okra cut-side down on the sheet pan.
Pop the plan the middle of the oven for 15-18 minutes. Scoot the okra around on the pan with a spatula or shake the pan at least one time while baking.
Summer treats us to bright colors, abundant gardens, and simple pleasures – like coleslaw. For most of my life I believed coleslaw to be the shredded cabbage with a mayo based dressing and slaw to the the familiar diced into fine confetti cabbage with an orange and pink vinegar based dressing. Coleslaw was a side a cookouts and potlucks, whereas slaw was found next to the fried okra on your barbecue plate, on top of your barbecue sandwich and a top a hotdog. I also nearly an adult when I realized barbecue wasn’t the monolith of Lexington-style barbecue – smoked, chopped pork that I believed it to be. Debating the merits of vinegar based against tomato or mustard based barbecue sauce is a conversation we Southerner’s will gladly take up, even vegan ones!
Traditional vinegar based slaw is vegan and deserves to share the spotlight with the more famous picnic style coleslaw. This recipe is Piedmont-style slaw I so fondly remember, especially from Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, NC. Stamey’s published the recipe many years ago, and it’s enough to share with your neighbors. A reduced everything by half for a family cookout – reduction is noted in parenthesis.
6 (3) medium heads cabbage (about 12 1/2 pounds), finely chopped/diced — truly think of confetti!
2 3/4 ( 1 1/3) cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 (1 3/4) tablespoon salt
4 (2)teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 (1/4)teaspoon ground red pepper
1 quart (2 cups) ketchup, such as Heinz
1 cup (1/2 cup) apple cider vinegar
Mix together the cabbage, sugar, salt, black pepper and red pepper.
Add the ketchup and vinegar and mix well.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
If you’re not feeling spicy, the shredded mayo can be ready to go in no time. Always short on time, I reach for the organic slaw mix at the grocery store with purple and green cabbage and carrots.
1, 14 ounce package of organic coleslaw mix (purple and green cabbage)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I prefer to start with 1/4 of a cup, and see how I feel about it before going all in with the entire half cup)
1 tablespoons sugar (you can go to 2 tablespoons if you prefer!)
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
Thoroughly mix cabbage and carrot mix with all ingredients
Chill for at least two hours (and up to overnight) before serving