As a kid growing up in California, I never had heard of okra much less tried it. The first time I ate it was (I think?) in a friend’s gumbo and my first reactions were (sad to say) a little confused and not terribly supportive of the weirdly slimy vegetable. But! Then, I moved to the South, made my own gumbo for the first time, and came quickly to realize how delicious and amazing okra truly is. Plus, it is super good for you as it is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and high in antioxidants. Until tonight I had only used frozen okra and it turns out (perhaps unsurprisingly) that the fresh variety, which I found this morning at the farmer’s market (the lovely Sunday one in Grant’s Park) is worlds (!!!) better.
Finding okra at the market this morning inspired both tonight’s meal and a new cooking project: finding a new-to-me ingredient at the farmer’s market each Sunday and building Sunday’s dinner around that ingredient. I’m hoping that it inspires a lack of boredom in the cooking department and helps me branch out and learn new things in the kitchen arena.
For tonight’s meal, I looked up a bunch of fried okra recipes and then took what I learned and modified the recipes to be gluten and corn free (getting rid of the cornmeal was sadly key for me as I have to avoid corn). The results were super exciting and delicious and both of us were sad that all the okra was gone and in our tummies. I used eggs, seasoning, and garbanzo bean flour (my fave of the gluten free variety) and cooked everything in a cast iron pan. Then, to go with the fried okra, I sautéed up some greens (a cool spinach from the farmer’s market, whose name is escaping me. But, the awesome guy at the market stand let us taste the spinach before buying it, which was so fun.) and made some quinoa as a base to throw it all on top of. For a little spice, I added some green tomatillo salsa from TJs.
I love (love!) fried food and cannot wait to make fried okra again. I am fully converted from a blithely unaware and unappreciative-of-okra Californian to a major champion of the slimy (and supremely healthy) veggie.
The Recipe: GF Fried Okra
First, chop the okra into 1/4 inch pieces and then rinse it all off. Then, throw the newly rinsed okra in a bowl with the flour, egg, and seasoning. Make sure the okra is all evenly coated! I saw some recipes that used a big ziplock to do this but I just tossed it all around with a fork in the bowl I was using. Then, heat the oil (I just olive oil as my staple) in a cast iron pan and once it is hot, throw in your dough-covered okra. Cook on medium heat and let it brown and then flip it over until the second side browns. And, done. Snack away.
- Fresh okra (about a 1 cup … but I wish I had had more!)
- 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
- 1 egg
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of smoked paprika (all to taste)
For the greens, I just sautéed spinach with garlic, sea salt, pepper, and onions. Between the greens, the garbanzo-bean encrusted okra, and the quinoa, the resulting dinner was a southern-inspired meal chock full of protein and salty goodness.