Grill/Barbecue How to Cook okra Summer

When It Comes to Okra, ‚Crispy-Soft’ Is the Best Texture

A few years ago, on a whim, I bought some okra from a local farmers market. It was too pristine to pass up, unblemished and deeply green. I ended up tossing the whole okra pods in oil and salt and grilling them quickly over high heat. They tasted like a cross between blistered shishito peppers and grilled zucchini. A perfect lazy summertime snack.

Some folks avoid okra because it releases a slimy texture when it’s cut into pieces and cooked slowly. However, if you buy okra pods that are small and crisp, and you cook them whole using high heat, the texture isn’t slimy at all. In fact, grilled okra is so enjoyable that it can easily become a mainstay ingredient in your repertoire.

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I’ve been searching for a reason to eat grilled okra not just as a snack but as part of something larger. I recently stumbled upon an ideal pairing when I added it to my pasta salad. Because the okra cooks so quickly on the grill, it maintains some bite and texture. It ends up tasting “crispy-soft,” which is the trendy way of describing a vegetable that has found that perfect balance between raw and overcooked.

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Tossed amidst springy coils of fusilli pasta, the grilled okra is aided by a supporting cast of smoked mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes, and torn basil leaves. A dressing of garlic oil and lemon juice envelopes everything. This creates a finished dish that tastes bright, acidic, yet also deeply savory. There’s no mayo in this pasta salad, and that’s just fine because it isn’t missed.

The earthiness of the grilled okra pairs perfectly with smoked mozzarella. It’s an ideal flavor combination for any outdoor barbecue. However, this recipe also works well using a stovetop grill pan to cook the okra in case it’s raining or you don’t have access to an outdoor grill.

As a New Yorker, my window of opportunity for enjoying this recipe is relatively small. Okra usually shows up at my local farmers markets sometime in midsummer and disappears around the time when kids return to school in September. However, if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country that has access to okra for a majority of the year, consider serving this recipe in the spring or fall, too. The simple preparation is easy on the wallet and delivers layers of exciting flavor.

No slime, either.


How do you cook your okra? Let us know in the comments below.

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