It’s been called the delicacy of the South, and garden experts say it thrives in the scorching heat of humid summers. My husband would disagree that okra is a delicacy, but I can vouch for the fact that it does indeed flourish in hot, humid weather.
For the second year in a row in these steamy Eastern North Carolina summers, I’ve had a bumper crop of okra from just four seedlings. It’s so fun to grow! Last year’s plants were even taller than these.
As noted above, I’m really the only okra lover in my house. My husband will eat it fried, but I don’t fix it that way very often because (a) it’s not the healthiest way to eat it, and (b) I’m lousy at frying it. The batter always falls off in the pan, and I wind up with a great big mess.
So, what to do with all this okra coming off these four plants?
I’ve been looking for recipes and found one submitted by Silvermarigold on allrecipes. Creole Okra calls for sautéing sliced okra with onion, green pepper, and tomatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Spices to add include dried thyme, fresh parsley, cayenne pepper, and garlic.
I rummaged through my pantry and refrigerator and found enough ingredients to make a modified version of this recipe.
In a large skillet, I sautéed the following in 2 tablespoons of olive oil: 1/2 large chopped onion, 1/2 thinly sliced green pepper, 1 tomato cut into chunks plus half a small carton of cherry tomatoes (again, what I found in the fridge; I put these in whole).
Here are the spices I added: 1 teaspoon of minced garlic (the kind in a jar), 3/8 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I let all this cook for a few minutes until the onion and pepper were close to tender. Then I added 6 okra, sliced into half-inch rounds. I cooked the whole shebang another few minutes until the okra was tender. The final product looked really pretty in the pan.
It tasted good too. I’d planned to use the gravy from the country-style steak I cooked on my rice, but instead poured the Creole Okra on it. That’s sautéed squash as another side dish…and another story.
I still had LOTS of okra left over, so I googled “Freezing Okra.” The process was easy. First, I boiled the large pods for 4 minutes and the smaller ones for 3 minutes.
Next, I quickly dumped the okra into an ice bath, letting the pods cool for several minutes.
It’s important to be sure the okra is completely dry before bagging it for the freezer.
I used quart-size freezer bags. The instructions said the okra will be good for 6 to 8 months, so I need to cook it sometime before next summer. Maybe try my hand at a gumbo in January or whip up another pan of Creole Okra?
My mother used to can and freeze vegetables all summer. Our family had a huge garden behind our house out in the country. I have only a small plot in my suburban backyard, but I bet Mama would’ve been proud of me for “putting up” okra.
And, not to be bragging, but I do think my Creole Okra recipe beats just steaming the stuff the way she used to do. My husband ate his entire serving!