Friday, August 5, 2011

Okra Summer Garden Sauté

Okra is a very versatile vegetable, good in gumbos and other soups and stews. It can be pickled, baked, fried or boiled, and the seeds can even be used as a coffee substitute.  The pale yellow flowers, strong foliage, and red stems of ‘Hill Country Red’ okra make a statement as a dominant row crop in the Edible Garden this season.  We’re knee deep in okra and encouraging every participating chef to work it into their dishes.  They all agree that the ‘Hill Country Red’ variety is large but tender and tastes just as good raw in a salad as grilled for a side dish. 

A warm season vegetable, okra is a staple in the South, thriving in full sunlight (eight hours minimum). It should be planted two or three weeks after the last frost, which is usually late April or early May.

This recipe features fresh okra and patty pan squash, grown here in the Edible Garden. The Vidalia onions add a touch of sweetness and the tomatoes a splash of color. 

Some people object to the texture of cooked okra, finding it too “slimy,” but according to Garden Chef Megan McCarthy, the less you cut okra the less slimy it will be. Another trick is to buy it fresh and use it quickly.

Okra Summer Garden Sauté

½ lb fresh okra
1 yellow squash
2 T extra virgin olive oil
½ sweet onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Wash and trim okra and yellow squash. Cut okra into 1-inch pieces. Slice yellow squash in half, lengthwise, and slice into half circles. In large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat, add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic, okra and yellow squash and stir. Turn down to medium heat and cover for about 5 minutes before adding grape tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Finish with fresh chopped parsley and/or crumbled goat cheese to serve.

Find printable versions of the Garden Chef recipes here.