Ever wonder what to do with okra? Try this recipe!

Sep 23, 2015

A few years ago I discovered okra at a famers’ market near my home in Richmond Hill. The little green vegetable intrigued me - I knew I wanted to cook with it, I just wasn’t sure how!

A friend suggested that I saute the diced okra with oil and garlic. It turned out to be great advice: the recipe was simple, and the results were delicious! Garlic okra works great as a side or a main; it quickly become one of my go-to dishes.

Okra is a staple in the foods of West Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Brazil, and thanks to Vineland Research, Greenbelt farmers are growing local okra for us to enjoy here in Ontario. Isn’t that great? We can enjoy ethno-cultural vegetables that are grown in Ontario.

What better way than to enjoy this delicious little green pod than through this recipe:

Garlicky Okra

Makes two servings, ready in 30 minutes

2 cups of okra

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Wash the okra with plenty of water. Cut the okra about 1 cm wide until you reach the stem. I usually throw away the stem but I know some who cook the stems. Remove the peel from the garlic and place the clove in a garlic press. Place the pressed garlic pulp in separate bowl - I prefer to chop and press all the ingredients for this recipe before the cooking begins since I like to not have any distractions why I stir the okra.

When buying okra try to look for smaller pods, they tend to be younger and won’t be tough and stringy. Older okra harden up which makes them very difficult to cut and cook.

Measure out two table spoons of olive oil in a pan, turn on the heat to medium high and wait a until the oil begins to warm up. There is no need to let the oil heat up, just wait a few seconds. Following that, add the okra and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the okra until the okra is fully coated with the oil. At this point, turn down the heat to medium low.

I like to periodically stir the okra so that it can cook evenly. Keep periodically checking and stiring the okra, and when you notice that the okra is no longer as firm as it used to be, add the garlic and turn the heat up to medium. At this point you want to continually stir the okra until the garlic is dispersed throughout the okra.

The garlicky okra is cooked once you notice that the garlic has turned a golden colour and you can smell a sweet caramelized smell. Alternately, you can taste the okra to see whether you are satisfied with the garlic taste.

I love to eat this dish with potatoes and poultry - sometimes I even add diced mushrooms at the beginning.

Want to know where you can buy okra at an on-farm market or farmers’ market near you? Click here to find out, and find local garlic here.

– Andreea Nicoara

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